Thai Market Culture. A Photo Essay.

This earth market (as some called it) was at the intersection of a busy highway flyover and junction, the Ping river and a slightly run down Buddhist temple. Not so glamorous, but a functional convenient spot for the local community.

Local markets are a great place to learn something about life in Thailand. Many of life’s daily mini dramas are on show and there’ll always be food. Year round warm weather overall creates the right conditions for lots of them, both permanent and temporary. Some pop up seemingly for a few hours on certain days as part of the rhythm of life here. From rustic local produce and clothing markets, to more high-end artisan markets through to tourist markets (often called walking street markets – a lot of crap but still some interesting gems to found), there is a lot to explore . You could easily never cook in Thailand (and some Thais don’t much) due to the availability of affordable tasty food at almost any market, but particularly at what are generally known as night markets. The possibilities for snacks and food in general are endless, multi-various and at times ingenious. When I stayed at a massage school in a fairly ordinary semi-rural part of Thailand (about half an hour from Chiang Mai), I decided to explore the local market on the two or three times a week that it was on to see what I could discover.

Stalls were often pretty simple but presented with love and care. There was a lot of home grown produce including all kinds of fruit, veg and animal life foraged or caught in the immediate local environment. Whilst cycling around I saw some of this foraging and catching in action: people collecting on public land, in gardens, up trees or in waterways; with others checking bamboo traps or some other catching, fishing or hunting trick. Some of what’s eaten may seem unappealing to us, but it’s largely healthy with a minimal environmental impact due to being caught or grown locally. Some standards of animal welfare may not seem acceptable to some, but not different to most parts of the world in one form or another, just more out in the open.

A lot of people were wearing masks; attitudes to mask wearing are pretty different in Thailand to some other parts of the world, and even seemed to vary a lot between much less in Chiang Mai and more more in this nearby area; some of it was lingering on post-pandemic and some due to sometimes heightened pollution levels at this dry season time of year.

Pulled and picked from somewhere nearby.
Healthy local stuff.
Barbecued frogs, there are plenty of them in every waterway. I couldn’t bring myself to, but another massage student tried the legs and arms.
Crickets. Thais eat all kinds of other insects including: silkworms, grasshoppers, bamboo worms, water beetles, scorpions, cockroaches and spiders.
More deep friend insects and grubs. A potentially valuable source of protein world wide with minimal environmental impact compared to some animal farming. 80% of the world’s population have been eating insects for aeons, so nothing new or weird here. Crunchy like a bag of crisps (sort of) and go well with a beer apparently.
Chillies, lots of them.

Some of the market was set by the river Ping, and included some of its produce.

The Ping river behind.
Barbs (a member of the carp family) and some small catfish (eaten a lot in Thailand).
More Barbs, ready to go.
Straight from the river more or less.
A more modern venture.

Aum’s Animal Farm

Mobile pet shop. The massage school bought two puppies from another market nearby (they are ultra well cared for).
Fighting fish in old soda water bottles. I presume they can’t live together for obvious reasons.

Snack Time.

Clearly made with love.
Coconut sticky rice cooked in bamboo.
Various versions of noodles, cheap and cheerful.
I really don’t know and didn’t fancy trying.
Fluorescent worms in milk ? Gloopy pudding of some kind.

Often found for sale around temples, Thai Buddhist amulets or charms are worn for protection or luck.

Amulet stall.

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