This is the honest taxi/tuk tuk situation in Bangkok. When a person walks outside a hotel, the taxi and tuk tuk drivers will do their utmost to take you for whatever they can. They quote a fare. You counter and/or insist on a meter. They let you walk hoping that the next tourist who walks out of the hotel will be a lot more gullible than you. The cab driver wanted 300 bahts to Chatuchak Market. What? Did he think we were raised in a tree? We paid 296 bahts from Suvarnabhumi Airport last night to the Navalai River Resort that included tolls and tip. The driver didn’t want to use a meter, we walked away and hailed another cab down the street. There are bazillions of brightly colored yellow and pink metered cabs available at all times of the day or night. Wave one down, tell them where you are going and insist they use the meter. If they won’t, say ta-ta and wave down another one. It was a 45-minute ride to Chatuchak because of heavy traffic, 107 Bahts on the meter.
What can I tell you about Chatuchak Weekend Market (Known as the “World’s Biggest Weekend Market) that I already haven’t written about? Only that it is always fascinating and there is always something new to see. How could there not be with approximately 10,000 stalls arranged in color-coded sections selling handicrafts, plants, pets, “antiques,” books, furniture, and clothes? On this particular trip, we stayed away from all the vendor stands on the perimeter outside the market. The perimeter alone would take you a minimum of one-two hours and stayed inside Chatuchak Market proper.
Chatuchak is nothing but one huge sensory overload. The narrow aisles into the market’s depth are claustrophobic, crowded and watch your footing on what passes for uneven paving, litter and food. I dare anyone to see everything in the market, let alone walk around in the heat for more than two hours even with refreshment stops. If you’ve never visited Bangkok, go sit in a steam bath for an hour and you’ll get the idea. Humid and hot all year-round, it doesn’t take long before everything begins to blur.
The food sellers are one of the most interesting parts of Chatuchak and the smells just draw you in. Women frying up all styles of Thai food. The biggest tiger prawns laid out on trays that I’ve ever seen. Fried Rice. Different versions of “who knows what”…View image…View image, fresh juices, and the familiar Ice cream, that had young women fast and furiously ladling freshly-made coconut ice cream into cups…View image.
A first for us were the many stalls selling cooked Squid eggs…View image. And everywhere you looked, if someone wasn’t cooking, there were tables of people eating and drinking. The aromas were fabulous and driving me crazy but after all the banana muffins, eggs, fruit, yogurt and Thai food for breakfast, neither of us could stuff another thing into our bellies but you’d be flabbergasted at the quantities of food the petite Thais manage to eat at all hours of the day.
To get away from the food, I went on a t-shirt hunt. Not the usual “Bangkok” and fake Armani t-shirts but something a little classier. Petite me still needs a size extra large by Thai standards, difficult if not almost impossible to find. This…was hopeless…and we just went back to cruising the aisles until the heat became just too much. The woman selling palm leaf fans certainly had the right idea!
Dragging, it was outside Chatuchak Market where a minimum of 20 cabs were lined up. The first taxi wanted 300 Bahts. The driver next to him said 100 Bahts but only if he could take us “shopping” first. “Just for looking.” N—O—. Kept walking and a third taxi driver wanted 500 Bahts. A short block away, we hailed another taxi who agreed to use the meter, but he took the faster way on the Toll Road. The passenger always pays the toll of around 45 Bahts, but even with that the total came to only 140 Bahts and only took 15 minutes. Remember where you read this and don’t get taken. A tuk tuk is even cheaper, but it is so hot and polluted in Bangkok. If you don’t care about the fumes take one.