Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas In Thailand: Shopping Observations

Christmas decorations at Siam Paragon in Bangkok

People were out Holiday shopping in packs this past weekend in my corner of the world. Nowhere near "visions of sugarplums"; it was alarmingly more like images of wolves circling a defenseless young deer.

I could hear the dull roar from the mall across the street from the grocery store I stopped in at and thanked my lucky stars that - through some forethought, for a change - I wasn't obligated to join in with them.  I was just out for cream of tartar, something I only use at Christmastime for an old cookie recipe my Grandmother used to make. I baked a variety of cookies yesterday; somewhere near 18 dozen over six hours. By the end of the evening I was fairly well "baked" myself, and I slept like a rock.

People were somewhat less rabid in the grocery store, but that'll change as the days people cook traditional meals get closer and the turkeys become more dear. Not the turkeys pushing the carts, mind you - there's rarely a scarcity of them between the 22nd and 25th of December - but the fresh ones that don't need time to thaw.

Every so often you'd hear car horns blaring loud and long, and I could just image the red-faced driver laying on their horn as another shopper slipped into the parking space they'd been waiting for; something that's likely to get your vehicle rammed in this day and age, if not setting yourself up to have the crap beat out of you by a woman jumping out of her car while wildly swinging an oversize purse.

A tree of lights outside of Siam
Paragon in Bangkok -
Siam Discovery's behind it.
Things - among the Thai themselves, anyway - tend to be far more calm during holidays observed in the Land of Smiles.  So far.  Let's hope it stays that way.

Oh, sure - they've yet to master the idea of lining (or queuing) up in an orderly fashion for anything, but unless there's some sort of disaster where panic over-rules civility things are different there.

When flooding or some other such disaster is imminent the store shelves are emptied in a mad rush, but that's self-preservation and happens anywhere. I'm talking more of the people trampled here in the U.S. for needless items at Wal-Mart before dawn on Black Friday.

As any regular reader knows, I'm quite fond of people watching; sitting somewhere and watching people go about their days. It's even more enjoyable in another country or culture. You're bound to learn something from the experience, and if it's the "easier, softer way" the Thai tend to go about their shopping, it's a lesson worth learning!

If you happen to be in an urban area of Thailand (read: Bangkok) and feeling a tad homesick for some traditional comestibles you can't find elsewhere (such as BigC or Tesco) I'd suggest trying the Villa Market near the Chong Nonsi or Ari BTS stations. They're usually expensive for imported items, but you can't put a price on a fond memory, can you?

Those of you who find yourselves in Pattaya there's the Friendship Market on South Pattaya Road that also carries a few reminders of home, although not the range that Villa does. There's a Villa on Second Road in Pattaya, too. If there are others you'd care to share, the comments section is open.

Better still, ask some folks who live there where they go for things they miss from home.  You might just make a positive new acquaintance, and that's worth the minor effort, too.


Anonymous said...

There's a very nice Villa Market at the Home Pro Shopping Center in Chalong on Phuket. As you say, expensive for imported items, but worth it for the memories of back home.

Phuket Tom

khunbaobao said...

Thanks for that, Tom. I have a friend staying there in a couple of months and he'll be glad to hear it!