Through my eyes: Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok
www.chatuchak.org

I really love visiting markets when I’m travelling. It’s the ultimate way to experience life in the city you’ve visiting; you get to see what the locals buy, what they eat, how they communicate with each other, how they live. Any time I travel, one of the first things I do in the planning phase is check out what markets are in the area so I can line up visits when they’re actually open. My first trip to Bangkok a few years ago saw my develop a fascination with the Chatuchak Weekend Market long before I actually arrived in the city. Online research taught me that the JJ Market is one of the largest in the world, spanning over 27 acres of anything and everything you could ever dream of; if they don’t sell it there, it doesn’t exist.

I love this market because it’s so real. The atmosphere is absolutely electric, it’s packed full of both tourists and locals alike, and it’s just an experience that’s completely insane and utterly necessary! If you’re ever in Bangkok, please make time to visit this place. But really visit this place – when you get there, talk to people, talk to the people selling the clothes, the hand made trinkets, and especially the people making the food! And try the food! Even if (ESPECIALLY if) you don’t know what it is! Learn and experience, don’t just be another tourist wondering aimlessly! It’s incredible, truly!

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Laem Din Market, Koh Samui, Thailand

Laem Din Market, Koh Samui, Thailand

According to http://www.chaweng.com/chaweng.html:
Location : at the entrance of Soi Reggae, Near Petch Bucha Thai Boxing Stadium
Open Daily : 05:00am – 11:00pm

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

As with most great finds when you’re travelling, I found this place by utter and complete accident. And thank goodness I did. I was sprawled across the hotel bed with a giant map I’d picked up from God-only-knows-where during the day, looking for something to do the following day. The map was mostly in Thai, with a few little pictures to guide me. I saw a little picture that looked like fruit, and deducted that may be a market of some type. I told my husband we were going to a market the next morning. “Are you sure that’s what it is?” Nope, does it matter? Nope!

So, the next morning we got up, grabbed a bag of diced pineapple and a mango shake for the walk, and set off to find this market, maybe. Once we got off the main “street” where all the hotels were, we realised there wasn’t another tourist to be seen. We figured at that point that it didn’t matter if we found the market or not anymore, we’d be bound to find some great stuff! We did, and that’ll need it’s own story and post, but eventually, we did find a market. Whether this is the one that was on the map or not, I couldn’t tell you, but I can tell you that we were two of the only four tourists at the market, and the experience was unreal!!!

Everything was fresh, cheap, and mostly unidentifiable for us. Makeshift tables to display wares were fashioned out of plastic crates and newspapers. Makeshift restaurants were set up in corners of stalls. People were yelling to each other, laughing, playing show and tell. I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to be staying at a villa with a kitchen so I could have an excuse to buy a stack of stuff to cook up! This, to me, is why I travel. I’m not there for the 5 star resorts or the fancy, air conditioned shopping plazas. I want, I need to be thrown head first into the reality of the place I’m visiting. I want to get a taste of it, literally and figuratively. I want to smell the seafood and hear the yelling in native tongues and see vegetables that I don’t recognise! I was stoked to have been able to work out eventually which market this actually was, because I have every intention of visiting it again on my next trip!

Does anyone else have any recommendations for random markets not overpopulated by tourists that they’ve found on their travels?? Would LOVE to hear about more!!!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

S1, Ep1: Pilot

Have you ever been so incredibly distracted from your life, for a reason you can’t quite put your finger on? I have. I am.

Things are pretty good for me on paper, and I certainly don’t take that for granted. I have a loving husband, a beautiful home, a good, well-paying job, wonderful friends and family. I’m pretty healthy and strong, have a great support network, a cute little dog that follows me like a shadow, and I’m very thankful for all of that, truly.

But my soul isn’t comfortable. It aches. It aches for something more. I know I should be happy and content, but something in me is telling me that I shouldn’t be content with life. I should be striving for more, for bigger, for more adventurous, more amazing, more exciting. Something tells me that I should aim for more than content, that I’m worth more than that. Buggered if I know how to go about it though…

I’m a regular, every day girl. I’ve struggled with (still do to an extent) depression and body image issues. I come from a fairly typical, close-knit Italian family. I graduated high school and went straight to uni to earn a degree, because that’s what you’re “meant to do.” Then I got a job. Got engaged. Built a house. Got married. Kept working. Acted sensibly, especially with my money. Never splurge money on expensive shoes. Not even magazines. Didn’t take any risks, because I was taught not to. Always better safe than sorry.

Then, a couple of years ago, I quit my decent job and decided to take a risk by becoming a travel consultant. It was certainly not all it was cracked up to be – the hours were pretty rotten, the pay was horrible, the stress was completely relentless, as was the pressure from management to make more and more and more money. It was not the job for me long term. It did too much damage.

It also, however, gave me an opportunity to do a bit of travel, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I feel a pull and a need to travel like most normal women feel to become mothers. I don’t have the maternal gene; I have the wanderlust gene instead. I know, in my bones I know, that my purpose on this planet in the short time I have is to travel and see and experience as much of the world as possible. I’m sure that’s not the end of my calling, because I still feel my soul twitching a little, but I know I’m on the right track now. My short time working as a travel consultant (just over 2 years) allowed me the opportunity to travel a little domestically, within Australia, but also to Christchurch in New Zealand, Koh Samui & Koh Phangan in Thailand, and Cancun & Isla Mujeres in Mexico. It also afforded my husband and I the opportunity to travel for 4 weeks to Egypt, around Italy, London, Paris and Barcelona.

It was my life dream to travel to Egypt, and I’d finally realised that dream. It awoke something within me; I finally started to realise that I had the ability to make my dreams come true. Even something as utterly impossible as travelling to Egypt (it sure as hell seemed impossible to a 9 year old girl with no pocket money!). I actually had it within me to make it happen!

With that new mindset, I made more plans to travel, mostly with my like-minded and very wonderful husband. We started working a lot harder to save our pennies so that they could be put towards experiences instead of things, including selling our large 4 bedroom home, and downgrading to a perfect little 2 bedroom townhouse, and me searching hard for and finally finding a better paying job, as well as personal training on the side for a bit of extra income.

When I blacked out on the train to work this morning, I jumped off at the next station, called my husband, and asked him to bring me home. I think it was my body finally manifesting what my soul has been feeling. It’s overwhelmed; I’m doing too much, and my brain is completely muddled because of it! I’m also a creative person by nature who isn’t really doing anything creative right now, and my body and soul recognised that before my brain did, clearly!

So, here we are. I’ve created a space where I can write, and share the things I love, both locally in my beautiful city of Melbourne, as well as globally on my travels. I want to share the wonderful things that helped awaken my inner wanderlust-bug; food, markets, fashion, real people, street art, shops, photos of beautiful places unknown, recipes I’ve been inspired to create and/or re-create, books I’ve read that have inspired me, even accommodation and restaurant recommendations! I’m thankful that I’m finally starting to find my life’s meaning after so many years of searching, and I hope that I can use this blog to help even just one other person do the same  : )

Life is short, and you only live once… but if you live it right, once is enough!