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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Chiang Mai: Shopping

I'm trying to spend as little as possible, but I have done some shopping. My first purchase was a battery for my watch. Dull, but performing the mundane tasks of life makes me realize I am traveling for a long time, that this is not a vacation, but my life. Now I need toothpaste.

My other two purchases were a headband that I wear as a sweatband, and a painted fan to carry with me. I bought them on the weekend walking street. The main street runs from the east gate through the old town. Every Saturday and Sunday evening, it is closed to traffic along with several side streets.

Vendors set up on the sidewalks, and customers stroll along, in the middle of the road. This creates an enormous market, since the street is over a mile long. Handicrafts from the different hill tribes are for sale, along with shoes and art and whatever else you might find in a combination craft sale and flea market.

In addition to wanting to see just how cheaply I can live, it would be hard to buy too many souvenirs. I can't remember what I have at home in the way of tablecloths and bedspreads and vases and baskets. So I will buy only practical things.

For instance, I brought a large daypack designed to carry my laptop and all its appurtenances. It just isn't suitable for wandering around, and I use it only to haul the computer and its accompanying stuff to a place with wifi. Since it won't work as a daily bag, and the smaller one I brought for daily use is looking worn, I'll definitely have another opportunit to shop. The strap of the camera case I got in Peru is starting to fray. Another excuse to prowl the markets.

The night market. The walking street on Saturday and Sunday. The daily market. The flower market. They all seem more interesting when I have a mission.

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