*updated* Chinatown, BK. It’s not that easy to locate…

Our final day in the city and we decided to head to chinatown, as its touted to be a foodie-haven for those who want to enjoy the best of street-food cuisine. Along the 1km strip of tightly-packed market stalls, there are also supposed to be vendors selling almost everything and anything in-between.  It sounded like the kind of place that would make us all happy, so off we went!

Despite doing our homework and downloading various directions and maps of the area from usually reliable websites such as TimeOut, could we easily find the location of Bangkok’s biggest Chinese market? No we could not! What we did find was Bangkok’s biggest industrial area; with lots of welding and other full-on industrial work goings-on, just casually happening on the pavements we hoped to walk along. We didn’t quite catch anyone taking their eye out with a welder, chainsaw or metal sander; but almost. The UK Health and Safety Executive would have had a field day! But seeing several people working hard, despite their missing fingers or upper and lower limbs, etc; I just feel glad that back home we have working regulations that protect our workforce and keep us safe. And I never thought I’d say that before coming on this trip.

Anyway, after about 1.5 hours of literally dangerous backstreet wandering, in the blazing sunshine, with grumpy, whining kids and with several cross words at the roadside, we finally found it: Chinatown! Luckily, after all that hassle getting there, we chanced upon the toy section of the market first. The kids were happy! Stretching out before us were about a hundred tiny passages, no wider than about 3 feet, with what felt like thousands of people passing through, mostly on motorbikes (!), and alongside this were stalls were selling crap, er, ‘toys’ that had obviously been imported from, yep, China. IMG_5965You know the sort of crap ‘toys’ I mean,  the sort that you find on the front of those expensive magazines that we sometimes buy our children as a treat for good behaviour;  the ones where the crap ‘toy’ usually breaks, just as you rip through that impossible-to-open cellophane…. Anyway, its suffice to say, with 5,000 stalls of this kinda stuff, the kids were in heaven! And the joy of being in Bangkok meant that just 200 baht and a tiny plastic Pokemon figures set later, we had 2 thrilled children and were on our way to the foodie bit! Win-win!

It’s definitely not chicken or duck…

And the foodie-bit was mad! I love my grub. I will try most things (apart from mushrooms!) and I am fascinated by the weird and the wonderful. There were lanes and lanes of food vendors, just like the toy section, packed closely together, all selling completely different  fares. And I can honestly say – I didn’t know what about 95% of the foods actually were! There were items so strange, I couldn’t have told you whether they were animal, mineral or vegetable. We did see sharks fins in a freezer. And lots of chickens feet. You could smell the herbs and spices. There were fish of all kinds and in all stages of preparation. And lots of stalls selling fried ‘somethings’ on a stick.

As it was now beyond lunchtime, we finally decided to be brave and stop for something to eat. We opted for some yummy-looking dim-sums and chinese pastry dumplings. And they were delicious too! IMG_5967It was a bit scary negotiating with the very authentic and definitely non-English speaking vendors, but we were kindly invited inside the stall and had our food properly prepared and served with all the extra-special sauces to make it taste super-delicious.

So despite our hot, sweaty morning wandering into the middle of nowhere, we all agreed it was worth it.

What an experience!

….. one last thing….

Aaron here, so if you are interested in actually finding the markets, here’s a quick guide to save you some time, stress and energy.

Get a map or use you phone to get to here.

So, get the Metro to Hua Lamphong and exit after the barriers via the left hand exit (possibly No.2). If you walk over to the right, it will take you over to the main train station.

The route to ChinatownHere’s a link to the directions from Google.

When you come out onto the street you need walk ahead and around the corner slightly in order to cross over the canal. As you look at the canal (going right to left) you basically want to go across and around to the right and follow Thanon Charoen Krung Road. Walk up and then turn left into Thanon Lamphun Chai rd. Walk to the end and turn right in Thanon Yaowarat Rd (its massive). Try and cross the road as the markets will be on your left. Keep walking up until you find Yaowa Phanit Rd on your left. This is now the start. Imagine a huge square and your are at the bottom right corner. From now on you should see tiny little alley ways going down. Its basically in there.

Go and explore, find something tasty, look out for motorbikes and people pushing trollies. Try something new, we did!! 🙂

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