This little piggy went to market every Tuesday and the occasional Friday, where she saw this little piggy…in pieces. Poor little piggy.
My town of Chonnabot in Khon Kaen, Thailand had biweekly outdoor markets on every Tuesday and Friday. Tuesdays were typically smaller, more food oriented, while Fridays were bigger, taking up the whole empty field next to the Tesco Lotus. Fridays included food and drink to eat on the spot, raw food supplies for the weekend of cooking, and a bunch of little shops with clothes, shoes, bags, watches, jewelry, and a myriad of random things from umbrellas to batteries.
Everyone went to market. It was the premier social event in town. I frequently saw my students there after school as well. ‘Hello Teacher!’ ‘Teacher, what you buy?’
I liked to buy the meat on a stick and stroll around looking at all the wares. I loved the pancakes on a stick too, with their little designs baked in. My favorite was the cartoon froggy, I almost didn’t want to eat it, he was so cute. Sometimes I would buy fruit, mostly dragon fruit, to bring to share at lunch with all the Thai teachers who fed us every day. I got into the habit of buying some of the Thai salads, too. Thirty baht. Meat on a stick: five baht. I wasn’t much a fan of the Thai version of salad dressing, however. It was too creamy for me.
More Thai food from market and the local grocery can be seen here.
I loved looking at the clothes, too. They were frequently the same or similar to the t-shirts we saw all over Thailand. The Run BKK t-shirts (still don’t know to what that’s referring to – a marathon? Nothing at all?). I liked the one I saw hanging next to it once that read: I Don’t Run. The typical Thai beer and superhero shirts lined up. I of course got one or two of those. They were made of this incredibly soft material. I didn’t want to wash them in case they lost their softness.
The t-shirts were also an impressive array of botched English letters and phrases. Sometimes the words would be spelled correctly but wouldn’t make any sense strung together. Sometimes words wouldn’t be spelled correctly whatsoever; just a jumble of English letters in random succession. I loved those.
T-shirts had grumpy cat on them, minions from “Despicable Me,” elephants, owls, all kinds of fun things. They were also frequently small, sized for the petite locals more than broad ol’ foreigners. I admit that a few of the shirts I bought were men’s. While the sizing issue deterred me from purchasing jeans and pants (especially when there were no fitting rooms), I was able find quite a few unique and fantastic tops at the town market. I got beautiful white, lace jacket/blazer at one tent stall. At first I was afraid to try it on, because most jackets were too narrow for my shoulders, and the sticky heat made it difficult to pull fabric over my equally sticky skin. With a little help from my friend, I discovered it actually fit wonderfully! This jacket was brilliant not only because it was stylish, but would allow me to sweat through it without ghastly sweat stains, yet still meet the shoulder-covering requirement at school.
I found some of my favorite souvenirs at the Chonnabot market. Some that held up under use better than others. One gorgeous black and gold pencil skirt tore along the seam in the back the first day I wore it to teach in. Another chain I bought for a necklace proved impossible to fasten and unfasten without a little tool. The admittedly cheap watch I got to record time during class snapped along the band within a week. Woops. The portable radio that hooked up to my phone crashed under pressure, too, though that might have had something to do with its time spent sitting on beach in the sun and sand.
The good finds, however, more than made up for these little misfortunes. I acquired a silver bracelet and pendant from one woman who was selling some of her personal items. She spoke some English, and told me these were hers from when she lived in Bangkok and farther south. I also got a travel-themed wallet that I brought home with me (100 baht). One of the best t-shirts I found at our market was a group of minions dressed as superheroes. I wore that out doing Christmas shopping back home in the States and received several comments on it. One woman wanted desperately to know where I got it. Alas, I’ve never seen them in this country. Amazon?
One weekend toward the end of the semester a really, really big market came to town. It was one long continuous tent with clothes hanging from the tent ceiling and racks and racks of t-shirts and clothes. There were other household linens and things, with less food. I found a child’s Chelsea Football Club uniform to bring home for my nephew there. I came across a Vassar Rugby men’s t-shirt as well there. I didn’t buy it, but I was more astonished than anything else. It must have been a second hand shirt donated to the cause by one of those Western expats. I played rugby as well, and couldn’t believe it when I found this Rugby shirt in a rural town in northeastern Thailand. Crazy!
The most impractical thing I probably ever got from the market was a pet fish. I had really wanted one of the googly-eyed fish, the black ones with the bulging eyeballs. However, I settled for a smaller box-shaped fishy that was yellow with black spots. I named him Castiel after the character in Supernatural (the TV show I watched obsessively online while in Thailand). Unfortunately I think I misunderstood the directions for filling Castiel’s fishbowl up, for my poor fishy died within the weekend. And unlike his name sake in the TV show, he was not resurrected. Poor fishy Cas.
The outdoor markets, everywhere in Thailand, are some of the most fun places to check out. I miss having this little activity to look forward to every week. Not that’d actually want to during the winter here at home. This little piggy doesn’t like the cold.