Do you feel sometimes you have to be in the mood to shop? Like, you need to be in the mood to watch a rom-com or in the mood to eat pasta. Look no further than Chatuchak Market in Bangkok.
Chatuchak Market is a destination in its own right, internationally known for endless shopping, where you can bargain with stall owners for their goods because everything is for sale.
Two years ago, we came to the infamous bargain mecca, Josh had his sights on the artwork, and I was on a mission to buy souvenirs and gifts for my never-ending list of family members. We arrived early when some stalls were still opening up and made our way through the maze of stalls.
Rows on rows of stalls, organized in sections. If you were in the homewares section, you could find furniture, lamps and stringed lights, fountains, all sorts of ceramic goods. Here is where we found Josh’s art, an abstract painting of Buddha, where the artist used different fabrics and acrylic paint to create his interpretation of the well-respected deity.
Wandering through Chatuchak market in Bangkok
We continued to wander through the corridors, only stopping to pick out gifts for the family. After about two hours, we decided to have a break, get a refreshing drink and sit for a bit. I don’t actually remember where we were or what we did because at this moment I was distracted by durian.
I had recently become obsessed with durian. The tropical fruit is delicious, creamy and known for its incredibly pungent smell if left to rot. Like I said, I had recently become obsessed with the fruit, immediately recognizing it’s spiky exterior on fruit stands.
From where we were sitting, I could see this very tiny stand that was selling durian products – ice cream, dried chips, yogurt dipped durian, the list goes on. I notice there is a set of durian pillows on the bench, and without hesitation, I ask how much it costs.
The gentleman who was happily providing me samples of the ice cream and chips gave me a blank stare and said, “Oh, one moment, please.” He must be getting someone who speaks English, I thought. So I waited a few minutes, now that I had tried the ice cream and the chips I was satisfied and decided not to buy either of them. After a few more minutes, the guy still hadn’t come back. Strange.
Bartering at the market
About 15 minutes later, he comes back, apologizes for keeping me waiting and asked if I could wait for 5 more minutes. All this to get a price on some pillows, what is this place? I’ll make an offer, maybe that would help.
“500 baht for two pillows?” I said assertively showing him the cash in my hands. He shakes his head, “1000 baht,” he says. Oh, so NOW you want to talk to me. “500 baht for two pillows” more of a statement this time than a question. “No, ma’am.” Wow, a hard sell for some pillows. Okay my final offer would be 650 baht, he countered to 800 baht, and we settled on that.
I have within my grasp two durian printed pillows, and I am thoroughly chuffed with my deal. Until I see Josh, who I notice had not been with me during this entire scene.
“How did you go?” he says, drawing out the last syllable. Whenever he does this I know, he’s about to say something I won’t agree with. “You’d be so proud of me,” I started, “I bargained down from 1000 baht to 800 baht for these two pillows!” I am grinning from ear to ear as I hold up a very large plastic bag of my booty.
How to loose money at Chatuchak
He gives me a smirk and starts slowly, “So you paid…AUD 40…for pillows…that weren’t for sale.” I realise this is more of a statement than a question. I go to reacted with an “Of course I didn’t!”, but catch myself as I stood there staring into space. I re-calculated the conversation. Damn. He was right. Quick, change the subject.
“What do you mean they weren’t for sale? Why were they on the bench then?” I’m grasping at straws here.
“Babe,” he looks at me stifling a laugh, “they were for decoration.”
In Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, everything is for sale. The stall owner may not have thought he would sell his decoration pillows that day, but they made an extra AUD 40 to some crazy tourist. I laugh about it now every time I look at my cute yellow and green durian pillows.
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