I keep telling you that my stories from Isaan are mostly small-time as though I am letting the side down by not finding the big “stop a tour bus” attractions and sharing those with you. The reality is that those photo opportunities are few and far between here and my blog is about my life living in Thailand not trying to be a Lonely Planet travel guide.
For me these everyday events are way more real, involving and insightful to Thai life than a lot of what you’ll find on Trip Advisor. Events like the Nong Bua Lamphu fortnightly markets will never end up on your to-do holiday in Thailand list but to wander through them will give you as many photo opportunities and smiles as the biggest wat in Bangkok.
For regular readers of the blog you you might remember a previous story where I told you that everyone living here should make sure they had a Thai Buddhist calendar in the house like the one shown below:
Do you see the number in the middle of the Thai script under the large date? This is extracted from the Buddhist calendar where the dates run from 1 – 15 relating (roughly!) to the waxing and waning of the moon:
Finally I come to the point! The Nong Bua Lamphu fortnightly markets are held on the 11th in the Buddhist calendar not our western Gregorian one. Plan your holiday around it!
We have started to make the trip to Nong Bua on a weekly basis to get my stepdaughter Peng a two hour Thai massage at an excellent place there. This helps with some mobility problems she has as a result of an operation in her childhood. Luckily today coincided with markets so Gaun and I could go for a browse while Peng had her massage session. We were on a mission to find a climbing plant Gaun had in mind to help cover the pergola/trellis we had built at the front of our home during some recent extensions. It is only available once the cool season gets going, which we are slowly moving into now.
For any of you who have spent time in Thailand I am sure you are aware of the local markets. They seem to spring up anywhere at any time usually in locations designed to restrict the flow of traffic as much as possible. I am not talking about the tourist markets like those in Chiang Mai, the evening markets in Chang Klan Road or the Sunday markets, but the “suburban” ones that are strictly aimed for local consumption.
I have been to quite a few markets across the country and I find that each one is pretty similar in the types of products for sale but they achieve a degree of local flavour through the food they have on offer. These Nong Bua markets are more oriented towards retail rather than food, which the smaller village markets revolve around. In Si Bun Ruang, our town, there are markets every Friday afternoon/evening and well over 50% of the stalls are selling either freshly cooked food to eat or farm produce.
Wherever there are Thais there is food and although not the main emphasis of these markets there was still a good choice of produce. Have something to sell? Set up a table. No licence required or health regulations to follow.
Clothes are a big part of these markets and there were heaps of stalls spreading out in every direction. There is a lot of work involved to set up these stalls for a few hours and then pack them away into covered utilities to move onto the next market maybe an afternoon or evening market somewhere nearby.
As well as food, clothes and shoes there was plenty of other options to part Thais and their money:
We ended up finding the climbing plant Gaun wanted (Phuang Chom Phu or something that sounds roughly like that) so mission accomplished. I will record its growth, which in this climate will have it all over that pergola in 12 months, and report back on the house update posts.
The previous day we had found a lemon tree in Nong Bua at an offshoot market. Lemons are a rarity in Thailand so it was quite a find. Only two trees available and at the exorbitant price of 250 THB each compared to the 50 THB you’d pay for an equivalent lime (manaw) tree.
Market time over we returned to see how Peng was going with her massage. I have provided details of this massage shop in my post “The Treasures of Nong Bua” HERE. By far the best place to go to relax after a hard morning shopping. Well a good Thai massage is anything but relaxing but you know what I mean.
I hope you’ve enjoyed joining us on a trip through our local markets. If you were one of the two other farang I met my condolences on the death in your family! Maybe you could take a lesson from your host country and lighten up.
Thanks for reading.