A Lanna delight for locals and tourists
Sunday Walking Street and Markets - a good place to find bargains
Weekends are a period for relaxation for everyone. They
are days for us to take a rest, escape from traffic congestion, and recharge
our batteries before starting on our busy weekdays.
smoking signs on display for sale
The Sunday Market is another alternative that can add
color to our days and relax our minds. It is a market located right in the
heart of Chiang Mai City, on busy roads filled with vehicles during weekdays
but incredibly turned into a pedestrian mall on Sundays. At this market, you
will see Chiang Mai locals, Thai and foreign tourists all doing their
on Walking Street observe wooden bird carving.
This Sunday pedestrian market has existed for over three
years. It sells various categories of goods, clothes, souvenirs, home
decorations and food. It begins on Thapae Road at the Thapae Gate and runs
through Ratchadamnoen Road to the Klang Wiang intersection where it splits
into two ways, one running towards Wat Chedi Luang and another heading to
Three Kings Monument.
is a good day for shopping.
If you walk it all, you will need to be fit, as it is not
a short trip! During your stroll you will see products for sale displayed on
the ground. Goods being sold at the market are of various kinds including
Lanna handicrafts and art, produced by Lanna people and hill tribes.
Amongst the indigenous people found there are Hmong hill
tribe folk who bring their traditional clothes, skirts, silverware, earrings
and bracelets to be sold, as another way to earn a living.
Asking for donations
Cotton clothes produced by housewives in many neighboring
districts are available at bargain prices. Saa paper, Saa paper products,
oil paintings, and artists who will sketch you on the spot abound at the
Thai instrumental bands, which perform beautiful songs
using traditional Sa Lor, Sor (fiddle) and Sueng instruments can be listened
to on your walk.
for the best bargains for gifts and/or souvenirs.
Prices of these goods are not too expensive because most
of them are sold by their producers, unlike purchasing from the middleman at
other markets where they are sold more expensively.
After a tiring walk, you can find refreshment around the
Klang Wiang intersection or even take in a foot massage. Thai desserts, ice
cream, juice (in bamboo cup) and fresh fruits are also recommended choices
to refresh you while taking a break.
The Sunday Walking Market is one we would recommend to
you. The market provides you with various choices of inexpensive gifts and
decorations to add color to your homes or gifts to delight your friends.
This Sunday market is one of the campaigns promoted by
Chiang Mai province in cooperation with Chiang Mai Municipality, the Chiang
Mai Commerce Office, and rural development division of Chiang Mai
Previously, some complaints were made that some vendors
were bribing officials to snare good locations to sell items such as
underwear, revealing clothes and plastic toys imported from China. Now the
market has changed and vendors that are only supposed to sell Lanna
The Sunday Walking Street and Market has a charm and beauty in itself and
is a very relaxing way to finish the week.
little shopper shows a lot of interest in the toys on display.
products on sale
Crossbows in the jungle
Never let the truth get in the way of a good story
Litee Akha, the champion marksman of Northern Thailand,
set the butt of the large crossbow against his flat belly. With both hands,
he expertly pulled the powerful string into place. There was an audible
“click” as the trigger popped into the ready position. He removed the
short bamboo arrow from his mouth, rubbed it with natural beeswax, and set
it in the groove, atop the ancient weapon. Holding the bow in a straight
line, away from his body, he took careful aim, and pulled the trigger. The
deadly projectile flew threw the air, straight and true as any shot ever
fired by William Tell, hitting the target, dead center.
in the jungle
We all applauded, causing him to smile brightly. His
teeth, darkened by countless years of chewing betel nut, remained invisible
in the growing darkness. “Tomorrow I will teach you,” said Litee Akha,
“But tonight, we drink whisky and eat bugs.”
Learning to use a traditional crossbow was something I
had always wanted to do. Since coming to Asia, drinking the fiery, most
likely poisonous, liquid that the hill tribes referred to as whisky, has
become old hat. But I still couldn’t stomach the fried bugs.
short bamboo arrow is rubbed with natural bees wax and set in the groove on
My host was Darren, a Brit, who owns Rose Guesthouse in
Chiang Mai, whose Thai wife grew up near the tribal village. After they were
married, they built a house as a weekend getaway but it soon became a kind
of community center for tribal people, who would pop over to watch TV, help
in the garden, or in this case, teach archery.
Some of the older boys went out into the garden to catch
frogs, which would be cooked on the grill. Darren turned on the outside
lights, so the village children could catch the thousands of flying insects,
who hovered around the bulbs. Once caught, they were placed in a bucket of
water, so that they couldn’t fly away. Later, the women and children sat
on the floor, picking the wings off the bugs so that they could be fried,
and eaten like popcorn.
the bow in a straight line, away from the body, it needs careful aim, before
pulling the trigger.
Luckily, Darren was grilling about 90 kilos of pork! When
the bugs were offered, I made some excuse about having eaten bugs for lunch,
and tore into the fresh cooked pork, like I hadn’t eaten in months.
The next morning we manly-men, Darren and I, lead by
Litee Akha, armed with cross bows and machetes, set out on our hunting
safari. It would have been more authentic, had we been going quietly, on our
bellies, like Marines. But instead, we had a gang of about twenty village
boys following us, shooting anything and everything with their sling shots.
The fun thing about being in the woods with hill tribes is that they find
food everywhere. The kids kept scaling trees, or hacking up roots, to share
edible plants with us. Of course, the noise was deafening. I would almost
rather have been in Bangkok during rush hour.
knows that these are not wild water buffaloes, but have bells around their
“If I were an animal, I would have run away by now,”
I told Darren. “Can you still get your story?” he asked. “Yeah, just
keep the kids out of the picture, and snap a photo of me shooting those
water buffalo over there,” I said. “But they are domesticated farm
animals,” Darren pointed out. “The readers won’t know that,” I
protested. “They have bells around their necks, and some of them are tied
to trees,” was his reply. “Well, just try not to get the bells in the
photos. And, if you can, try not to make me look so fat.”
With the whole village standing one meter behind me,
snickering, I readied my weapon, and tiptoed up on the water buffaloes, or
were they oxen? They may have been cows for all I knew. Anyway, the photos
were somewhat believable.
“Have you got your story, now?” asked Darren. “Sort
of. But since we are hunting, I would feel better if we had a photo of us
actually killing something.” One of the hill tribe boys pulled a badly
mangled, dead frog from his bag, and laid it on the ground. To his credit,
Litee Akha had more scruples than me, refusing to shoot a dead animal. But
as always, the dollar won out in the end, when I offered to buy not one, but
two cross bows, if he would let me photograph him shooting the dead frog.
When he went over to retrieve his arrow, he looked like a visitor to a
county fair, eating shishkebab on a stick.
“You aren’t going to print that,” asked Darren. “Of course I am.
But don’t tell anyone it was staged,” I said, swearing him to secrecy. I
had learned to shoot a cross bow and how to catch and eat bugs. The hill
tribes had learned how to fake a magazine layout. Everyone walked away a
winner. You can contact the author at: [email protected] or
contact Darren, to visit the hill tribes and shoot a crossbow and eat bugs
at [email protected]
In Search of the Chili Crab
Almost as difficult as finding Nemo
It was early on a Friday morning when the cook and I set
out for a weekend in Singapore, compliments of Silk Air and the Meritus
Mandarin. We breezed through Immigration and Customs - they even offered us
candy during our brief wait - and were out into beautiful Singapore Changi
Airport before we knew it.
tiny Wak Hai Cheng Bio Temple, one of Singapore’s oldest, is dwarfed by
the modern city skyline. One of the many beautiful sights we enjoyed.
Changi Airport could be a shopping destination unto
itself with Prada, Ferragamo, and Dior shops interspersed among stores
featuring gold, diamonds and jade. Orchids and pools filled with koi abound.
You can even sip tea and be serenaded by a string quartet while you wait for
your next flight. But we had other things to do, so we bought two shuttle
bus tickets and headed into town to the stylish Meritus Mandarin Hotel.
incense lanterns where we sent prayers heavenward to locate the crab seemed
Our room overlooked busy Orchard Road, named for the
nutmeg and pepper plantations that formerly lined this present-day
consumers’ paradise. Huge trees shade the busy, multi-laned road but are
dwarfed by the five star hotels and upscale shopping malls. A brief
neighborhood walk before heading out to dinner showed us safe sidewalks
absent of litter and cross streets with lights that were scrupulously obeyed
search for the crab we had to queue for taxis, what a bore!
Determined to find the best of local food, and being from
New Orleans, we decided to try the local seafood specialties at the Marina.
The guide books and our concierge both told us that the local specialty
known as “chili crab” was not to be missed. It is offered at any number
of seafood restaurants, but we decided to try to find the original.
tried it all during our search. Boat Quay and the central business district.
According to Roland Lim, proprietor of Roland’s
Restaurant, his mother concocted the first chili crab “way back in
1956.” The Lims later emigrated to New Zealand, but son Roland, knowing a
good thing when he tasted it, came back to Singapore and opened his own
restaurant featuring mom’s creation.
Finding Roland’s was a little like Finding Nemo. Nobody
seemed to be able to tell us where the street was located. But on faith and
growling stomachs, we ventured forth and eventually found the huge warehouse
of a restaurant that served heavenly food. No ambience, just food.
We ordered the chili crab, of course, but we also ordered
crispy fried baby octopus tossed in a sweet soy sauce and topped with
cilantro (coriander), fried calamari and soft shelled crab. The baby octopus
was served first, and was amazing. Tiny, crisp sweet bits, with the sauce
coating caramelized over each bite. The calamari and soft shelled crab were
also world class.
Then came the piece de resistance, the chili crab. The
enormous local crab sat hot and steaming on a bed of delicious tomato, chili
and egg sauce. The crab had been taken apart, the shell cracked for ease of
eating, and the entire thing reassembled for presentation. Sauce had been
poured over it, guaranteeing a messy but delicious eating experience. How
can I describe Roland’s except to say that the cooking part of our
partnership went in search of recipes and invested a tidy sum in a new cook
book the next day.
Did we enjoy the famous “hawkers’ stalls” of Singapore? Of course.
Did we shop at the kitchen supply houses? Definitely. But we never found
another dish so simple, yet so delicious as the chili crab.