Friday, January 29, 2010

Chachoengsao - Talaat Baan Mai

From Sothorn Vararam Vorraviharn Temple, we took a boat across the Bang Pakong River to Talaat Baan Mai. The local community revived Talaat Baan Mai, a 100 year-old riverside market on the eastern end of Chachoengsao. This market is only open on weekends and public holidays, and I was lucky to be there on a weekend. For a 100-year-old market, it is well-preserved and offers visitors glimpses of traditional life in quaint setting.
This Sino-Thai settlement, founded during the reign of King Rama III, prospered from waterborne trade at the confluence of the Klong Ban Mai canal with Bang Pakong. The market has a network of over 120 wooden shophouses and stalls that have barely changed since King Rama V visited in 25 January 1907 (they even kept the clutter from the past).Much of the appeal for me lies in watching vendors prepare Thai and Chinese dishes in crammed quarters. It was a feast for the eyes as well as for the tummy if you have space to try everything that each vendor had to offer.For instance, this bowl of rice noodles (above) cost only $0.60. It came in a bowl of rich broth with little bits of meat and offal. Nothing spectacular about the noodles but it appealed to me as it was below a dollar. Then there are the Teochews who settled in Thailand selling Ku Chye Kuehs and Soon Kuehs. If you want to try the authentic and full flavored versions, this stall has it. The soon kueh is made from bamboo shoots and not from Chinese turnip (jicama). To luscious green strings of chendol jelly.I enjoyed myself very much at Talaat Baan Mai and would recommend that people make a day trip there if you happen to be in Bangkok over the weekend and want to explore life outside the bustling city.

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