A Shopping Spree in Bangkok

{ 28 comments }

I almost had a heart attack when I first entered the Aladdin’s Cave of the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok.

So. Much. Stuff. So much pretty, sparkly, colourful stuff. And some of it was going to be mine.

We’ve rented a $5-a-night bungalow that’s perched in the hills on the island of Koh Tao. It’s in a stunning location, but it came unfurnished. It featured only a bed, a broken chair, and a bunch of gecko droppings.

So with a bungalow to furnish, a fist full of spending money, days to shop, and rows and rows of exotic merchandise to choose from, we entered the chaotic maze of the Chatuchak market.

This, my friends, is what my fantasies are made of …

Can we get one? PLEAAAASSSEEE?!

We spent days shopping with reckless abandon, while I ignored one critical dilemma that nagged: how the f* are we going to transport this motherload back to our island home?

Koh Tao is an 8 hour bus trip, plus a one hour ferry ride from Bangkok. As we began hobbling under the weight of our shopping bags, it became apparent that a critical transportation problem was arising.

Be quiet, voice of reason, for we are shopping and now is not the time for your pragmatic interruptions about weight, dimensions, and other mathematical nonsense. See the pretty shiny things? See? Shut up. 

We bought a desk. We bought four chairs. We bought a fan, a bean bag, curtains, curtain rods, lamps, candles, two sets of sheets, a naked lady in bronze that weighs 6kg. For who does not need a naked 6kg bronze lady? She’s decorative. She’s a paperweight. A doorstop. A muse. A silent seductress. A weapon for crushing snakes.

“Essential!” I declared, when Ivan asked if we really needed her.

We managed to find a shipping agent to send the furniture, but in order to save money, we ambitiously decided we were capable of carrying the rest on the bus and ferry trip back to Koh Tao.

You know those cheap, stripy square bags made from plastic that people always take to airports? We had three of them in size XXXL. And a beanbag. And a 75L backpack. And a bag full of camera gear, cords, chargers, extra batteries, and all the digital necessities that one can no longer leave home without.

We hired a Tuk Tuk to carry most of the heavy stuff to the bus, the tiny vehicle sputtering and overflowing with our pregnant bags. Everyone turned and stared. Some giggled. Many Thai people thought the bean bag was worth pointing and laughing at. They all repeated the same line in Thai, which I can only assume translated to: “What kind of idiot buys a beanbag for a souvenir?

And there’s me traversing the busy traffic in Bangkok with an enormous beige colour beanbag, it’s cumbersome bulk in my outstretched arms like I was in an embrace with a naked, morbidly obese man curled in a foetal ball.

The bus driver, however, was not amused by The Fat Man. “No, cannot take,” he said. “Too many! Too big!”

Oh shit. We had 30 minutes until our overnight bus left the terminal and a small baggage problem. People had already boarded the bus, and they looked down at us from their windows. We must’ve looked like the greediest tourists that ever set foot in the Kingdom.

“Please?” we asked the bus driver.

(Well, in truth, it was more like this: “What? Why are you telling us this now?!We’ve already gone through this with your ticket office THREE TIMES and they said it’d be FINE for us to take this on the bus! We told them we had this many bags! They said it was no problem, but you’re telling us that we can’t take it NOW? The bus leaves in 30 minutes! What are we supposed to do?! Please let us on!”)

“No. Cannot.”

And so it was final. We had officially over-indulged at the Bangkok market to the point of gross, unmanageable heft.

We took our bags back to the ticket office on the Tuk Tuk (well, the bags rode in the Tuk Tuk and we walked alongside it), and began ranting kindly asked the ticketing agent how we should transport our bags 350 km south and across a body of water. Finally, they told us we could send our bags to Koh Tao on a truck, which would deliver them directly to our morning ferry.

Easy. Problem solved. (“Why didn’t you tell us this earlier?! You could’ve saved me from carrying around The Fat Man and ranting at you in a squeaky voice for 15 minutes.”) 

Now, after all of the bliss and trouble of obtaining our goods, it’s time to decorate …

Leave a Comment

  • Dyanne@TravelnLass June 29, 2012, 11:24 am

    Sounds like a most delicious dilemma most any would like to have. Love your prose, and the new digs are destined to be glorious, but I hafta say…

    “And a 75kg backpack.”

    Huh???? Surely that must be a typo. Shoot, I had to run it through my iPod converter app to be sure I wasn’t hallucinating. That’s ***165*** pounds!!! Surely you’re not lugging around such heft. Seriously. Please tell me it’s a typo else… perhaps exaggerated creative license?

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche June 29, 2012, 1:45 pm

      Typo. 75 litre. I had litres in there this morning, then lost my work by not saving, then retyped kilos. HA! Thanks for the correction. That is one big mumma backpack.

      Reply
  • Elizabeth June 29, 2012, 12:21 pm

    Your shopping spree is basically what my fantasies consist of, though not as funny… your going to make me insanely jealous of your jj market decorated beach bungalow :) Well done getting it all back, have fun!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche June 29, 2012, 1:46 pm

      JJ market — so you’re a regular, then? :)

      Reply
      • Elizabeth July 1, 2012, 1:03 pm

        Ya I live in Bangkok so I try to make there when I can, except the heat has been too much lately!

        Hey I am featuring your blog and this post on my blog http://www.ondayillflyaway.com and I was wondering if I could use one of your pictures from this post to share on mine? Would appreciate it!

        Thanks :)

        Reply
  • Christina June 29, 2012, 2:01 pm

    Can’t wait for the ‘finished’ photos!! Did you get a turtle??

    Reply
  • Cat at Sunshine and Siestas June 29, 2012, 2:30 pm

    So, so pretty!! I love the colors and the perspective.

    Reply
  • Carmel June 29, 2012, 3:26 pm

    Not nearly as stressful as your transport, but when I didn’t have a car and lived downtown, I bought about 6 or 7 overloaded bags of groceries (plastic, before it was evil) and had to walk alone a little over a mile with them. The checker asked if I wanted to drive around and pick them up…I said I was walking and she looked at me like I was crazy. A few blocks from my apartment I was in tears and ready to just leave them by the side of the road.

    I can’t wait to see the beauty that is your new abode! You had such a vision, I’m sure it’ll be perfect.

    Reply
  • Terry Denton June 29, 2012, 4:43 pm

    Torre,

    Some really neat pics here.

    I recently began blogging myself. If you have a moment, check out my admittedly quirky travel blog at http://www.travelbyterry.com. It’s a fun read, or meant to be at least. ;0)

    Travel safe.

    Reply
  • Hannah June 29, 2012, 5:28 pm

    I love that you guys are all in with this thing – this is going to be the most beautiful $5 bungalow the world has ever seen. Please can I come and visit next year?!

    Reply
  • Meg | One Love Meg June 29, 2012, 7:59 pm

    I can’t wait to see what the place looks like after the decorating. I am so jealous of your shopping spree. When we were in Morocco I wanted everything!! I wanted my house to look like the cave in Aladdin but I couldn’t buy anything because we were traveling. I ended up talking my boyfriend into a Moroccan rug that cost more to ship home then we paid for it. Ooops! :)

    Reply
  • Clare Edwards June 30, 2012, 9:40 am

    Essential!

    Reply
  • DEK June 30, 2012, 4:20 pm

    It would be like being in Ali Baba’s cave, and they took VISA.

    Reply
  • Katherine - Kapcha The World July 1, 2012, 9:12 pm

    haha I love it. You’re a woman after my own heart! I can’t wait to see all the things you’ve bought in your new pad. I love the naked woman statue – I am so the same – it’s usually a “but I need it”! lol. Have been laughing about your shopping spree for the last 10 minutes – great way to start a Monday morning! :)

    Reply
  • Rease July 2, 2012, 12:12 am

    Haha, this sounds like a fun slash disastrous adventure. When I lived in Buenos Aires, I only missed my car on occasions when I had to transport lots of things. I cannot tell you how many times I rolled my wheely suitcase through the horribly paved sidewalks in a stubborn attempt to save on cab money while still transporting lots of things at once. I’m glad you guys made it home with your totally essential bean bag!

    Reply
  • Pia July 2, 2012, 2:45 am

    Ha ha! Love it! Just out of interest do you recall how much those delectable retro looking fans were? I went vintage fan shopping here in Nam last week and a fan that only just rivals one that you would see attached to a baseball cap was 400 USD! Italian, yes, but really?! Tell em your dreamin’! xxx

    Reply
  • Ayngelina July 2, 2012, 5:29 pm

    Don’t delay with the photos showing us how it all looks!

    Reply
  • Gail @godgirlgail July 3, 2012, 2:05 pm

    Ohhhh, love all the sparkly, shiny things. Wish I were there to fill a bag…or two…I guess I’ll have to settle for a World Market spree.

    Reply
  • Linda Benton July 5, 2012, 4:16 am

    What a fabulous market! I can see why you had to ignore your voice of reason. When the heart & mind want, no hurdle is too great! I’m glad you leaped over those annoying logistical issues, can’t wait to see the transformation Torre :)

    Reply
  • karina July 5, 2012, 5:40 pm

    These are crazy awesome pics! One of those rare times when a car is needed. Wish there were more places like this in the US. It would make for more interesting adventures. :)

    Reply
  • Antonia Murphy July 6, 2012, 12:15 am

    I can’t wait to see the pictures of the finished product! Please hurry up and decorate already so we can all live vicariously!

    Reply
  • JoAnna July 11, 2012, 1:51 am

    This place looks like a dream to me. I would’ve loved shopping there (plus I love to bargain). Did you buy a turtle? That would have been my weakness.

    Reply
  • John August 3, 2012, 6:03 am

    What a fun experience. lol. I really love your photos. There’s this lomo feel to it. Whaddya use?

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche August 3, 2012, 6:20 am

      Thanks, John. I use filters in Photoshop. I style them to look cross-processed.

      Reply
  • Paul Davis August 13, 2012, 3:02 am

    It looks like you had a really great time purchasing some cool stuff at the market. How I wish I am there now. Just by looking at your photos, I think I’ll have a hard time choosing. I think I have to write a list before going there.

    Reply
  • Amy October 5, 2012, 7:44 am

    Wow. I’d love to decorate a flat from that market. You’re so lucky! Even if it was a bit stressful getting it back. :) But it was an adventure. :) Did everything arrive in one piece?

    Reply
  • eve tedja October 9, 2012, 6:34 am

    Haha this story is just familiar. That was what happened to me in Chatuchak( minus the beanbags). Ended up bringing home that gigantic stripes plastic bag with a wheeler and assortment of home decor stuff like brass cutleries and door handle :-p

    Reply
  • Dee January 3, 2013, 2:20 am

    I can’t stop laughing!! You captured the shopping experience perfectly!! You know. I’ve been watching Sex & the City lately and your posts make me think you could write for a major newspaper/blog.

    Reply