As soon as I was done with lunch, I headed to the nearby BTS station (this stop was called Nana) and stood in line to get coins. The fares range from 10 baht (Rs. 13) to 60 baht (Rs. 83) and it essentially works like so:
- get 5 and 10 baht coins from the manned counters
- each stop is number coded, so you first choose your destination by selecting the number on the machine
- put in the required number of coins
- your card is issued
You need the card to get past the gates and only then can you go up to the platform. Once there, you generally don’t have to wait long. I had to get down at the last stop heading north on the Sukhumvit line, Mo Chit, to get to Jatuchak park.
It costs 60 baht but my god! The time you save! A ride which would have taken me an hour in Bangkok traffic took me just over 10 minutes. I can’t wait for Bangalore Metro to open! This service is such a time-saver.
Chatuchak (also called Jatujak or even JJ) Weekend Market is located near Jatujak Park.
Now, I’m not much of a shopaholic but while I was doing my research for my trip, JJ Weekend Market claimed to be the largest flea market in the world with thousands of stalls! I wasn’t going to count but it still intrigued me enough to go check it out.
I didn’t even know if there even was a “main entrance” so I just entered one of the lanes.
I immediately realized why JJ was popular. You get everything! From clothes, fashion accessories, home furnishings, cutlery, food, fake brands, stationary, cool crap… wholesale as well as retail.
The guy in the pink shirt you see above was selling every bag inside his store (even the big ones) for 199 baht (Rs. 270). He kept calling every non-small eyed guy (including me) “Michael” and pointed towards his store in the hopes of luring us in. The tourists did find it funny hearing him go “M-O-I-kaal!” and I did step inside to see what the fuss was all about. There was a fairly large trendy looking Puma bag (good looking fake) I thought of picking up but I reminded myself that just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean I have to buy it. Especially if I’m really not going to use it. So I just walked away without buying it.
Which was a good thing because just down the road there was another store selling bags for 189 baht (Rs. 260) — but without any fuss [picture can be found below]. I realized what a clever marketing move it was that the 199 baht store was employing. Get people’s attention with a lot of noise and the notion that everything must go with 199 looking like the rock bottom price. Once people are in, take a hit on bags that may actually cost 250 selling for 199 baht but make up for lost profit by selling bags that may actually cost him 100 baht for 199 there by evening it out anyway. Clever.
Tip: Try and do all your shopping from Bangkok. I realized Bangkok is the hub and main distribution point for pretty much every other city in Thailand. Take for example the cool looking lanterns you see above. I saw the silver one first on the streets of Ao Nang — for around 1600 baht (Rs. 2,200). Obviously I didn’t buy it because I thought it was quite pricey. But here? Prices start from 300 baht (Rs. 410).
Just because JJ calls itself a ‘flea market’ doesn’t mean you don’t get genuine products here. There are authorized dealers for original Converse shoes (very popular in Thailand) and several other brands. But the thing is, I’d still pick up a good looking fake for hundreds less. The imitation is just that good!
Another cool aspect of JJ I really liked was the sub-cultures that existed within the place. You had various sections dedicated to different fashion. A series of stores specializing in hip-hop fashion, gear for rockers, reggae, etc. It was really cool.
I really want to profile the various sub-cultures at Chatuchak the next time I come here.
So did I shop much at all? I had already picked up a funky T-shirt (for 90 baht/Rs. 125) and I was looking for a Def Leppard t-shirt at all the stores selling rock gear. Some stores had genuine second-hands (the official merchandise but already worn) but those were selling for over 1000 baht (Rs. 1,300). Now, I love me some Def Leppard but I wasn’t going to spend that kind of money for a second hand t-shirt unless it was worn by Joe Elliot himself!
I had spent nearly 3 hours here and I could have checked out more stores but a lot of them began closing by 6pm itself.
I decided to leave JJ and so… puppiiiiiesssss!
They even had puppies for sale! I felt sad seeing them being sold like this. But when I heard 3000 baht (Rs. 4,100) for some breeds, I was more “Hey, that’s not bad” than “Awww, poor thing”.
There was a lot of stuff I could have bought from here, especially clothes and shoes. But I had already spent enough and my bag was full enough.
Also, don’t cave in and splurge at JJ thinking everything is cheap here. Some items you’ll get in air-conditioned malls such as MBK Center for more or less the same price. So do go around Bangkok a bit before you decide to spend.
It was past 8pm by the time I finally left JJ market. Yet another place I’m definitely coming back to.
I took the BTS back to my hotel room and called it an early night after dinner as I had woken up very early today.
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