Sunday, October 21, 2012

Market Schlepping in Bangkok

So the new "business adventure" has included doing quite a bit of research around town, sourcing genuine vintage clothing, and also looking for unique new patterns and stylishly made clothing. It has been a hot, sweaty and a sometimes disgruntling experience. 

We tracked down the internet's advice on where to go (and decided who ever wrote that crap was on crack). The worst, absolute worst experience so far has been Wang Lang Market. Now any one that has been to Bangkok and travelled around, must know it's not the easiest place to navigate, even with Iphone's internet service and google maps. Mainly it's to do with the 'lost in translation' side of things i.e: you are pronouncing the romanisation of a Thai location incorrectly; this is true 99% of the time. Actually, it's probably 100% of the time. Also hard if your Thai is shitty, like mine is. 

For us, Wang Lang was our Waterloo of "Vintage Markets". What we thought would be a relatively easy navigation turned into a very expensive affair, for butt fuck nothing rewards. It was supposed to be – take moto to train, take train to river, take boat ten stops down river, 'hey presto': market. Ha, when the hell does that ever happen in this city? 

Yes to the first two steps, BUT get to the river, and for some reason unbeknownst to us (could have been anything really as I'm totally fucking illiterate in this country) ALL of the boats were out that day (possibly due to flooding... or something else, who the fuck knows). No public boats whatsoever. And a whole bunch of grifters telling us horseshit about why there are no boats (you would recognise the type: shady, greasy, dark and manipulative - enough english to try and cajole you into doing something you don't want to do - kind of like drunk slimy sex with someone you know, but not very well, and don't really like - you feel bad afterwards). 

So out of heat frustration and total abject laziness to look any further, we take a private long tail, which is about ten times the price of what it should have been, and even though they say they are taking us to where we ask, of course the grifters are lying sacks of shit, and drop us off at another tourist site far from our desired destination. We're then walking on a crowded street, in the mid day heat, and I feel grubby. But not as grubby as it's going to get. We walk, until we decide a bus may be better, and some busses are free. Which is fine, until we get on this dilapidated fifty year old vehicle, with open windows, and flies drunk on heat, meandering through the air. The interior hasn't seen a clean and the motor a tune up since possibly the 70s, but mid 60s seems more likely. You think it's going in the direction you want, but really, it isn't. Which totally pisses you off when you want to get out, and it's the first instance I've seen where the driver wont open his doors in the middle of the road whilst stuck bumper to bumper in traffic that is going nowhere. The driver insists on driving that extra five hundred meters in the opposite direction, from the point you indicated where you would like to alight. I figure it's because I'm white, and he's a spiteful cunt. 

Get off the bus, walk some more following the blue dot on google maps (man, I love that blue dot). Find the Pier which is across the river from where we want to be. Ask someone where the boats go from, he directs us. Here is another piece of advice, take Thai directions with a grain of salt. They are quite often, always wrong (the language is too general for specification I find) . It's not that his directions were wrong for someone sitting at an information booth, it's that, why the fuck didn't he know that boats weren't going from that location either. Walk to pier, get told boats aren't ferrying foot traffic across the river that day. Walk back to street. Give up, approach expensive moto. Two moto's. They'll take us, but they don't seem to understand where it is either. Patience shortens. Fuck it. Get on and wing it. End up on a four lane toll way, with no helmet. Feel slightly insignificant and that this could be one of those moments, or THE moment. Driver pulls to the side after all the four lane traffic business is finished, and gives me a helmet for the side streets, indicating the fact there is police presence around. Because getting a ticket is worse than having a dead farang, I'm guessing. But whatever. These decisions are rather parochial on day to day basis here.

Get to market. Discover market is more thrift than vintage, when it comes to the small amount of vintage it offers. The clothes are overly pedestrian, lack any style, are grubby and make you want to shower after handling them. Shops are situated over sewer drains, subtly* covered by awkward floor boards (*not subtle at all), and they can't mask the odour of smelling like shit. The newer clothing is crappier and more expensive than sourcing the stuff from somewhere closer, like Platinum or JJ market. 

We decide the people positively reviewing this market on blogs, are totally full of shit. They make it seem so exciting and full of lost treasures... Pffffft. Don't believe the delusional hype. This market caters to idiot tourists who don't mind paying exorbitant rates for shitty clothing, or think thrift clothing badly made five years ago, is vintage. We buy two things, more out of sheer determination to not have had the whole day go to waste than anything else. 

I should mention that going to these kind of places without food, in a hypoglycaemic state is also a bad, bad idea.  It amplifies your grumpy. We grub about for an hour or maybe a bit less, become increasingly unsatisfied, with the quality we see. We decide finally after much ado about grumble, that we should leave. Taxi's ignore us, or are otherwise taken by local thai's who push into line. Fine, whatever. It's not something that I'm not used to. We approach Moto's again, just to get the hell out of Waterloo-Dodge quickly. We agree to an exorbitant rate from the moto. Be gone, is all we want. We're hot, grumpy, ill nourished, disappointed, and feel like a bath in Clorox is mandatory. An unhappy exit is compounded by the fact that the moto driver smirked when we agreed to his exorbitant rate. 

I still feel like an idiot tourist outside of my comfort zone in Bangkok. It's because I have no prior experience of spacial awareness in new locations, and cannot gauge how much distance is worth the fee and therefore cannot negotiate. 

TLDR: my twitter update of our odyssey to Wang Lang. Never Again - Some bits of Bangkok weren't made to be seen. 

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