Bangkok: Markets & Transportation

2015-03-06

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Bangkok is quite the modern city and the markets are aplenty. The best time to go to food markets for lunch is noon to 1pm. They are quite prompt and start the break down the stalls shortly after. Dinner is similar and in order to get the full variety of options go to eat at 7pm. Some of my favorite markets are as follows: Silom Market – lunch time, Chatuchak Weekend Market touristy, but large and a good food selection, Convent Road – lunch or dinner (at night there is a market this connects to on Silom Road, Chinatown – night time, groceries (best during the day), Khlong Toei (24-hour and could fit several football fields inside this one).

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You can get anything at these, fresh fish, dried fish, half a pig, chicken butchered fresh at 1 o’clock in the morning, spice mixes and water beetles. Yes those are basically giant cockroaches about 3 inches long. I had a very long conversation with the gentleman selling these involving very little English and lots of hand gestures and ad hoc sign language. So basically he says they smell bad, but they are a little sweet and great for cutting the spice of chilis. So before you get too disgusted, they are generally muddled with dried chilis and oil to make a chili paste (many other versions as well). If you’ve been here and ate lots of chili pastes then you may have had these and not known it. So, I tried some chili pastes with it and it gives a little funk and umami to the chili: strange, but good.

As to getting around there are a lot of options. The trains here are quite modern. People queue up in an orderly fashion before getting on the train and they are very clean. There are only two that run above ground and one that is a subway. A trip runs anywhere from 20-40 baht. The buses are little more difficult to navigate, but they’re cheaper as well at 9 baht. No air conditioning, but they are much more extensive than the trains.

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There are also boats as an option. Ferries that run up and down the river are 15 baht a trip. There are also ferries that run straight across the river for 5 baht (practically free) and lastly you can rent a boat to take you out into the canals. The price of that boat is subject to your ability to negotiate. Don’t pay more than 600 baht for sure.

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Lastly, there are tuk-tuks, meter taxis and motorbikes. Tuk-tuks will always try to get you to make stops at places they get money from, and are definitely not worth haggling with. Meter-taxis are great if they use the meter. At night they will often not want to use the meter and you can expect to pay a little more at night, just be prepared to negotiate. The motorbikes will usually cost about the same as a taxi, but if speed is what you’re looking for this is the way to go. There are also red trucks with benches in the back that shuttle you to train stops for 7 baht.

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At the suggestion of a friend, I offered this guy an extra 60 baht to get me to my location in half the time. That was enough to motivate him to risk both our lives and what should’ve been a 20 minute ride ended up being 6 minutes. It’s like a cheap inner city roller coaster ride if you’re bored and have no fear of death.

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