The Chao Phraya River Express Boat takes me directly from downtown Bangkok up the Chao Phraya river, making stops on either side of the wide river, the lifeline of the city. You get sightseeing thrown in for the minimal fee of the boat. The real adventure starts when you reach Nonthaburi, the very last stop of the boat service (even though at some times of the day, boats continue further north). A short walk along a busy road takes me to shops selling cheap clothes and jewellery, and just when I start wondering where the market is that I want to visit, the first stalls appear on the street: this is the flower section. I first want to take in the market (I have read that vendors leave around 9am), so I continue walking, until I reach a long alley with stalls on both sides.
Here, I find vegetables, stalls selling rice, a woman preparing skewers with meat, another one with small, colourful snacks for sale. There is a stall selling only peppers: all kinds, colours and sizes. A woman sells garlic, and has her dog in a small basket on top of all wares for sale. I now see where all those ingredients giving Thai cuisine its balanced taste come from: ginger, galangal (a Thai kind of ginger), lime, curry paste, and more. I am already looking forward to my next Thai meal - too bad I just had a copious breakfast! But this desire to eat fades quickly when I come to the wet section of the market. I see a man trying to put a bucket of fish into a container, but some escape, and the poor fish are trying to swim in the scarce water on the ground, wriggling their way on the merciless asphalt until someone comes to scoop them up and put them in the big container.
In the covered section of the market, there are stalls with fish, crabs, pig heads, chicken heads, whole chicken - both live and dead. There are small baskets with fish neatly arranged with an eye for arrangement. At first, I think I see a table with intestines, until I notice that the frogs are still alive, and I can see them breathe and their legs twitching. When I look up, a friendly Thai lady gives me her sweetest smile. Time to continue, explore the friendlier fruit section, where I have to control myself not to buy a bag full of yummy tropical fruits. All the while, it appears that despite its proximity to over-touristy Bangkok, this is still an authentic, local market with a village feel to it, with vendors who do not speak anything but Thai, and who make the visitor feel welcome if only by their warm smile.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Nonthaburi market (Thailand). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Nonthaburi market. Read more about this site.