Sunday, 15 May 2011

Chatuchak Market

I was trying to work out how to cross a busy road this afternoon (There were no little old ladies and my usual method is to get close to a little old lady and go when she goes. I figure they must be doing something right.) and some how ended up in a taxi with an American couple from Hawaii going to the big Sunday market.

They were Nikki, a masseuse, and Peter, a ski-diving teacher. Peter has been coming to Thailand once a year since 2002 to unwind after ten months teaching.

The market apparently covers 20 acres, I'd never heard of it.

As I walked in I was overwhelmed by smells. First, books mouldering in the damp heat, then hand made leather shoes, woven baskets, teak lanterns. There was so much stuff to buy and so so cheap. Carved wooden fruit bowls for 40 baht (just over 1 AUD), a giant jade elephant god for 350 baht, little jade elephants for 50 baht. I walked past beautiful textiles and wished some of my shopping friends could be here.

From there I thought I took a turn to go to the hand-craft area and ended up in garden plants. Another turn to set myself to rights took me into the pet section. And that's where it all went wrong. 

At first I looked at the kittens and hamsters and guinea pigs and rabbits and made a little joke in my head that I could pick up one of each for snacks later on [terrible, I know, and possibly explains what happened next] because I got lost in the pets. I passed tanks and tanks of tropical fish (all the ones I'd learned to identify in Madagascar, many of the juvenal varieties, too). Then I got stuck in the poultry section and nearly passed out or threw up from the hot dusty feathery smell of it all. 

And it kept getting more nightmarish and everywhere I turned there were more animals and I started seeing baby sugar gliders scrabbling to get out of their aquariums and Macaw parrots and Australian Bearded Dragons and tiny Iguanas and hedgehogs and dormice. And then it got worse and there were buckets of big maggots and trays of small maggots and shrimp and krill and crickets and gold fish and do not take photograph signs.

The joke in my head changed to 'I think I have had a dream like this where I just kept going round and round and no matter which way I turned I couldn't get out.' Each time I was sure that I had found my way, there were more pets.

And then there were the squirrels. The baby ones were all in a wall of little wire cages and the bigger ones were lined up along the top. I couldn't work out why they weren't making a run for it until I got closer. They were all tied to the cage with little silk ropes around their necks. Each one was leaning against its binding with its little nose pressed against the cage beneath with a look of glassy-eyed despair. Except for one little chipmunk who was still fighting like mad to get free. Should I mention the one that had on a little yellow dress?

I thought I had been in there for hours, but it was only 30 minutes.


BigMal said...

The 'pet' section of the market sure sounds like a nightmare!

You need to find a market with cheap items when you are on your way home - not when you are starting your holiday ;-)

While you are in the tropical weather - has anyone from here told you how cold it has been in Vic? Records have been set - much snow on the mountains already.

BigMal said...

Actually, that last message was from me, Birgit, not Big Mal. We just share the gmail account!

Ceels said...

Snow?!? Oh my goodness. I know it was the coldest May morning recorded, the morning I left (the 10th?).

I will try and keep that in mind before I start whinging about 32 degrees.

Morag said...

This is extremely surreal. I will be sure to avoid the pet area if I ever find myself in the vicinity. However, I am sorry about the lack of photo evidence of the squirrel in a dress.

Lyn said...

Poor Ceels, that sounds very unappealing. Just shows the different attitude to animals in different cultures. I hope you don't get lost in markets again! And make sure you stock up on the lovelies on your way back. How frustrating to not be able to buy, buy, buy!
Lyn (from the guild)

Ceels said...

Hey Mo, the poor little thing looked just like a Disney Princess.

Hi Lyn! Next time I will take a map. Apparently it is easy and cheap to post stuff from Thailand, but there is really not enough time :). I'll have to wait for the drop spindles in Uzbekistan.