Malls, Parks, Tires, Tickets, Markets, Oh My!

July 13th, 2008. Categories / Chiang Mai, Thailand

You know you are low on annoyances when the hardest part of the day is figuring out what to do for breakfast. Fresh brewed coffee is pretty common in Thailand, but not nearly as easy to find as it would be in America. Granted, a lot of that stateside convenience is Starbucks. Dollar for dollar, there isn’t any place here that will serve you a tall paper cup full of hot coffee. And if you can find a place that sells brewed coffee, it is never paired with a selection of pastries. I don’t think scones exist here. This is all too bad, because my greatest joy is a big cup of coffee, a scone (or cimanin roll!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and the internet in the morning. The second breakfast of champions is coffee and a bowl of muesli with yogurt and fruit. There is one place in particular called Cafe Mong Pearl that makes a mean version of this. Unfortunately, they require a morning drive to get to. Until J. and I move into our apartment and can prepare it ourselves, breakfast will be a thorn in our stomachs.

Yesterday morning, I looked out the balcony window and thought long and hard about where to get our damn breakfast. Across the tiled rooftops, my eyes fixated on the huge, ugly brick monstrosity of an old mall called Central Kad Suan Kaew. Would this mall have pastries? Yes. Would it have brewed coffee? Yes. Would we go there by motorbike to get both of those items? Uh, yes. Lady and I geared up and sped there with a swiftness that defies 125cc. We got there around 9:45, a good fifteen minutes before the mall officially opened. Again, J. and I were at a mall before it opened. It’s a weird feeling of hilariousness and pathos.

We wandered around the quiet halls as employees began to set up their stores for the day. The pastries were still getting put out, tray by tray in the supermarket. Over the course of an hour, only half of the baked goods had been put out. I think the clerks must have though us insane, but where I’m from the bakeries normally have all their stuff ready before 11AM. During our wait, we picked up two good cups of coffee from a chain and walked back downstairs to find that little carts had now opened selling hot coffee for less. Dammit. But by then more pastries were out, so we bought four and plunked ourselves down in grocery store to eat our belated breakfast.

J. sitting in the yellow lit grocery store.

J. bought a local paper and we drove to a park to hang out a bit.

The lakes in the park are full of fish.

Afterward, we drove down to the large Warorot Market. It is spread between multiple, decrepit buildings near the Ping river and is home to all sorts of food, flowers, clothes, and housewares. With a little digging, I think you could find anything here.

View from an elevated crosswalk connecting the two main buildings.

All sorts of dry goods for sale, from spices to pickled things, herbs to teas.

Each main building has huge open spaces to look down into the food areas below. The upper galleries house mostly clothes and other non-food items.

From the high perch, you often get to see weird view of the action on the ground. This view is looking down in a Blade Runner style cosmetics alley. The booths have wood and cardboard roofs.

Besides bael fruit being in abundance (I bought a bag for 50bht($1.50)), there were huge bags of saffron for sale for ludicrously low prices. The bag in lower left of this photo was around $3.

Toy shop.

Wigs.

Live eels.

Rice.

Meat.

Ping River looking north.

When we finished browsing the market, we walked back to the motorbike to find that it and all the other bikes next to it had been ticketed and chained together. There was a no parking sign that we’d missed. We waited around for a cop to come back and he explained that we needed to walk to the police station and pay a fine. He would unlock it when we came back. So we walked for about 10 minutes to the station and payed the 200bht($6) fine. The two people at the desk seemed to be giggling about issuing receipts. They logged all payments in two separate books and tried (as a joke, I think) to overcharge me. The station felt both bureaucratic and informal. The room we were in was just a bunch of chairs, the people at a desk, a fish tank, a jar of free Mentos, and another man behind a window. I didn’t see a computer anywhere. The whole place didn’t inspired fear or confidence in the police force of this town.

After getting the bike unchained, J. and I drove around to pass the time until the Sunday Street Market started. Then our tire went flat. This wouldn’t have been as annoying if it hadn’t happened YESTERDAY too. Luckily, in both cases we were in short pushing distance from repair shops. For another 100bht($3), we had the inner tube replaced, again, and were on our way. This time, we drove back to the rental shop and swapped out the bike. It seems like our old rear tire had been so worn that it was heating up and putting extra stress on the inner tubes. Something to check for next time.

The bike missing it’s rear wheel.

High tech repair shop, complete with child labor.

It was dusk. It was market time. We wandered around the crowds of people and vendors. There were many people and vendors. We wandered around them. The people would look at the vendors’ wares and then wander. We looked at the vendors’ wares and the people wandering.

People and vendors.

These blind men had a pretty awesome band going. One guy played a bucket as a drum, while the drummer in front used his foot and hands for playing the high hat that rested on the ground.

For dinner, J. and I started with omelets cooked in banana leaves. I had mine made with gross white ant eggs. It didn’t really taste different, but was a little repulsive to look at.

This kid seemed to be lecturing his father.

The second course was fried noodles.

The market was a total sausagefest.

My idea of fun at markets is eating. In one hour, I had eaten an omelet, pad thai, sweet potatoes, banana shake, coconut juice, and bael fruit juice. I wanted to eat some grass jelly desert, but I was too full. Maybe next week.

Today will be a lazy, but tonight we’ll do the same thing we do every night. Try to take over the world.

3 Comments


Ashley:

I see your back in good ole’ CM. I have a bevy of contacts for you but no actual phone numbers, so I’ll just have to run you around the streets a little bit. First, go to the Thursday night meditation Sangha at the Yoga Studio on the West side of the mote near M apartments- you have to go a little ways down a small soi before you see it. In that group are several friends of mine, including Mathew, who I think you will have a lot in common with, and also Pym is very cool Thai woman.

chris:

four eels for me, please.

Nik:

Done. I ship them as soon as I can lure them out from under the bed with a saucer of pork.

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