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Secondhand Heaven

A temptation for lovers of character items

One of the disappointments of Thailand is that there is very little history left, both in architecture and in the everyday items such as art, sculpture and other decorative items. There are a few second hand shops around but the ones I have seen tend to only have ‘junk’ modern era things. I have no wish to add an old typewriter or CRT TV to my garden or house artwork! It then came as a total surprise, and a pleasant one at that, to come across a place that stocked much more interesting collectables on two trip we did recently to Chiang Mai. 

Now that I have mentioned Chiang Mai you are probably thinking, quite rightly, that this is where the shop is located, because Chiang Mai has far more home and garden accessory outlets than most places in Thailand. Bangkok being the exception.

You’d be wrong in that guess because this place is situated on the edge of highway 12 in the middle of absolutely nowhere. We passed it on our first trip to and from Chiang Mai ten days ago, a trip we did to register my stepdaughter Peng at Rajabhat universty. It was only when returning from the second trip to drop her off at university, that I had the urge to have a break from driving and explore. We did the standard U turn after a while (Thai expats know what I am talking about) and dropped in for a look-see.

This is mostly a pictorial post but I think you’ll enjoy the trip around this treasurehouse of the wierd, interesting and a few items that are definitely collectable.

The canons got our attention the first time we passed but it was only on the second return trip that I had to find out what was lay behind them. My forst thought was that this was a museum but although everything is laid out to make it easy to browse, you can buy it all.

This is a sight you will not come across often in the Thailand I have been to anyway. A large range of items all displayed in their categories. Some are newer but mixed in is a range of older (by Thai standards) goodies.

I could have filled the pickup with a selction of items from here. This statue was one that would have been added for sure.

And this guy too. Beautiful. Hand carved from hardwood. This is an older piece, not just made for the tourist trade.

I would skip the angels but the two large heads would be on my must have list.

Any guesses on what these upright posts with a hole cut into them might be? If you were thinking fence posts you’d be way off. These are timber burial columns that were made to place a few bones of deceased people after cremation back in the day before concrete was used. I think I will give these a miss. Gaun would have a fit if I got them. Thais are very superstitious.

Yup. Load him up too! This is Ganesh an elephant Indian deity that has made its way into Thai Buddhism. You will often come across versions of Ganesh in Thai temples.

Some of this stuff may not be that old but it looks the part doesn’t it? It probably comes from a Chinese factory that bashes them around to make them seem ancient. Timber does not survive well in Thailand because of the climate and termites so it is unusual to come across as much wood items for sale as are displayed in these photos.

Thinking of the budget – do I need to eat? OK, add this one too.

For those many perfume bottle collectors out there.

A strange mix of cultures.

After the expenses of two three day trips to Chiang Mai and Peng’s university costs, I wasn’t looking to spend big (originally not spend at all) but I did pick up a couple of mementos of the visit. See the wall plaques lying down at the front? Teak and just what I wanted to fill a blank spot that has been annoying me for ages. 1,000 baht for both (A$44.00)

A coat of anti-termite and then stained and they have come up well haven’t they. 

I suspect that we will be making more regular trips to Chiang Mai with Peng studying there. We are also hoping to meet up with Australian friends maybe later this year. This shop will always be a temptation to drop in on the way back and spend money that I shouldn’t!

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  1. Greg Carroll

    Enjoyed the read and photos Tony. High quality images as usual, with a slightly different take – Ganesh. Made me think of Thai’s religious tolerance and inclusiveness, albeit the Muslim separatists in the South are trying hard to disrupt what is a model for Western society. The inclusiveness extends to so many other areas of Thai culture: a lesson for us all.

    I can identify with recalcitrant GPS units. Have had a number of hard discussions with my GPS over her choices. Never suspected it was a drinking problem. Got me thinking now…

    Got a little off track there with my response. Ah well must be the affect of the GPS rubbing off.

    PS 78 weeks to go.

    • Tony in Thailand

      Hi Greg and Yuri. Thanks for your set of comments. I will try to capture all your observations in the one reply. Yes, Ganesh is a reflection of the inclusiveness of Thai Buddhism. It’s like they were young Buddhists in a Buddha shop and picked a little bit that was on sale in the Indian section, a some items from China and added some other goodies into the basket from the local selection. Add the connection to royalty and a couple of big ben grandfather clocks, that you often see in wats, and the eclectic mix is complete.

      Put your GPS on a strict watch, make sure she attends regular AA meetings and that should fix your navigation problems.

      Peng is studying for a teacher’s degree in Thai language for senior school students 15 – 18 yo. I will send you a separate email to bring you up to date.

      The coffee Bon Cafe is OK. It is mostly pretty fresh, and does the job for me anyway. Around 150 baht for 250g. I know the area where Khagee is located in Chiang Mai. We are heading back there on the 18th for a Peng related trip, info in email to come, and if we are in the area we’ll check it out. I hadn’t heard about the teak tree registration. I wonder what that’s all about.

      We are off to a monk ordination tomorrow with a street music party but I doubt it will be one of the big trucks you talk about. We went to a party thrown by an Aussie mate and he hired one of these for his village. I personally prefer the stage approach if the event doesn’t have to be mobile. You get to see the band, rather than have them out of sight upstairs in the truck, and of course the stages have dancing girls and that can’t be a bad thing 🙂

      Thanks as always for your contribution Greg. Hi to Yuri.

  2. Jim Busby

    Go ahead and splurge Tony, Peng didn’t really need those textbooks..555! Some real collectibles, and not that usual plastic trashy stuff you have shown us in places you visited in the past. Those black Phra Lersi Hermit figurines with the animal heads would look nice as well. And what, no turtles for your turtle house? You say Gaun would have a fit with a burial timber, I would have a fit if you purchased one of those phallic looking things behind them! You probably are right that you can flip a few items upside down and read Made in China on the bottom, so what else isn’t? Don’t know about the American Indian statue, but in the pioneer days in the USA a similar statue stood outside of Cigar stores to advertise tobacco products sold there. And yes, the plaques liven up that barren wall. I can see you now waiting for your next retirement check to go shopping again!

    Take care,


  3. MjCromer

    Good choice on the wall hangings vs Ganesh but really, everything on display there looks amazing.

    • Tony in Thailand

      The choice between wall hangings and Ganesh was only based on budget Mike 🙁 It was a really unusual find. Goodness knows who buys this stuff as Thais aren’t that keen on old things. I will save up and buy something each time we pass.

  4. Pippa Hooper

    Absolutely amazing! Where is it Tony? Your wall hangings look great.

    • Tony in Thailand

      It was a very surprising find Pippa. Looking on Google Maps I find that it is on highway 1, not the 12 which I reported. That’s a bit further on. It’s about 2.5 hours south from Chiang Mai. A easy return trip for you if you have access to a good driver. I am about to publish another brief post about two other stops that are well worth the drive, a terrific pottery shop and lots of crockery places. Combine the three and it would make for an interesting day out of the city. Highway 1 is easy driving – dual carriageway all the way.

      • Pippa Hooper

        Thanks Tony – will await your other “shopping” posts with interest.
        We are wondering about your route from Si Bun Ruang to Chiang Mai. How do you get over onto Highway 1?
        Pippa & Andrew

        • Tony in Thailand

          I have started on that post and it should be published today.

          We used to drive Chiang Mai to Si Bun Ruang regularly when we lived there 2013/14 and apart from the first trip we did, we always took a backroad route that went through the small town of Dan Sai in the hills of Loei and finally over to the 11 close to Uttaradit and from there straight into Chiang Mai (as you probably know the 11 turns into the CM superhighway ringroad and ends at Nimmanhaemin Road). It was a more interesting drive but on single lane rural roads, good fast driving ones, but requiring more concentration. From memory I used to allow about nine hours and 600 km, so maybe shorter but equal driving time.

          Because we were doing the double trips this time I thought that we’d do it easy and head south on the 228 from SBR, turn right onto the 12 and then right again at Tak onto the 1, which was the quickest route according to the GPS. Once we hit the 12 which is an hour from us, most of the rest of the trip is dual carriageway, so cruise control. The main challenge is staying awake. We could have also turned right off the 12 onto the 11 at Phitsanulok and come in that way. I should have followed the 11 the second time as a comparison to see which route was the quickest. My GPS has a drinking problem and sometimes her recommendations are totally weird.


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