Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Chinatown, Bangkok 19th March 2012

Nice Hotel

Today, another trip south along the river to the pier that should lead deep into the Chinese community that is Bangkoks Chinatown - into the deepest, darkest nooks and crannies. Well, that's the theory anyway, but so far Chinatown Bangkok has not really been what I would call very Chinesey, probably because I've only been traversing the fringes en route elsewhere. Today though will be a concerted effort to discover the sights, smells and sounds of China in Bangkok.

Ratchawong is the pier I need to get off at - its the next stop after Memorial Bridge. Quite a few tourists getting off here too so there must be something to see! Into a cul-de-sac and a collection of tuk tuks and buses, although how the buses managed to get into this narrow street and turn around is somewhat difficult to imagine. There is definately more of a Chinese presence to this part of town. The architecture, small terraces with shuttered windows and those big red globe lanterns over doorways, all big clues telling me that this really must be Chinatown. Narrow dark streets, so narrow that a kind of canopy has been constructed thus protecting stall holders and shoppers from hot sun and monsoon rains - yes, you guessed it, another market!

Chinese imports in abundance, mainly plastic products from cheap toys to monsoon ponchos and pouches to protect those electronic gadgets. Lots of what we call 'tack', products that look and feel substandard. Equally there are items of better quality and still reasonably priced, just got to look harder, usually towards the back of aircon lock- ups. Plenty of fashion accessories of all kinds satisfying any female, and male in some cases, vanity.

Narrow street
It's not really a conventional market, but one long, very long street with units that spill out into the pavements, alleyways and offshoots. Further in and plastic changes to fabric. All kinds, every conceivable mix of colours and types from silks to polyesters and cottons. Looks like a merchants area, selling wholesale, taping up packages for onward shipment. An old timer, selling shirts from a cart for 69 b, about £1.45. Worth a rummage in here, pulling and competing with a local obviously quite pleased at the discovery of a few bargains. Couple of nice black and white shirts catching my attention, heavy fabric and the styles I've often seen in UK high street stores - Top Man, FCUK come to mind, unsurprising since most of their stock probably originates from around here anyway. So, under 3 quid for 2 really nice shirts, that's tomorrow's rent money spent! Not much in the way of food, simply because there just isn't anywhere for the carts go. There is the odd drinks stand, an occasional snack stall but that's it. Fabric and fashion, miles upon miles of it, that's how it feels anyway, but in reality it's probably just a few hundred yards, as the street continues, over a main road, more dark alleyways all with Chinese merchants doing brisk business - now if only I could come up with a few fashion designs! This is Chinatown then, yep, feels like it being surrounded on all sides by Chinese!

Light at the end of the tunnel, well, the end of this street anyway. Out onto a main road and looking around the place resembles a district of India rather than any Chinese or Thai neighbourhood. Saree shops, plenty of them alongside units stacked from top to bottom with fabrics - this time with an Indian flavour, so this then must be 'Little India'. Further along, a shopping centre, another good opportunity to cool off for a while. 'India Emporium' its called. 3 floors of fabrics and garments and a food court on floor 4. This is the place to find all those Indian foods, and it i,s entirely Indian. Samosa, curries, south Indian, north Indian, dosa - just like being back in India! Prices are reasonable too, about 40-50 b per item or dish.

Back onto the street, heading back to the pier. A good variety of jewellery - gold, silver, gems etc all secured behind thick glass, on sale around here. So China meets India in Bangkok, an interesting concept that would suggest a healthy trading relationship between all three, judging by all the freight and packages out waiting for transportation. An interesting, different part of Bangkok that's worth a look, perhaps a rummage to find that bargain of the decade!


  1. Thanks Paul for the reports, This is all new to me but very interesting,keep em coming. Any chance of a few photos of the accomodation inside & out. Just curious to see what you get for the money.Any chance you could blog what happens in the evening.

  2. Generally speaking, what happens in Bangkok stays in Bangkok :) but I might make an exception..

  3. It can stay in Bangkok as well. Rather have a good curry.