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Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series
I keep talking about the local markets because they had such an influence on our stay in Thailand.
Our primary objective was to experience, as well as we could, life for the people who live around Ao Nang. And this is where many of them shop, not so much in grocery stores.
I believe there was a market for every day of the week, each in a different location, and they were known by the day. Nearest us, for example, was the Wednesday Market (pictured at the top). Another nearby was on Sunday, best I remember.
They did not set up until about 3 p.m. and ran into the early evening. I’m certain the vendors travel to all or most of the markets.
Food, of course, was a major reason for going. Everything from fresh fish or vegetables to fried chicken or fruit smoothies.
But there were also plenty of shops selling things such as handbags and clothing.
While we always felt more than welcomed here, most of the customers were locals.
In addition to the markets, numerous shops were located up and down the street selling foodstuffs, renting scooters, offering various services. These were often situated in front of the home.
There were plenty of more traditional stores, too, most notably 7-Elevens.
I was shocked at the number of the iconic convenience stores, but this Wikipedia article says Thailand has more 7-Elevens than the United States. In fact, it’s second only to Japan, which hosts 31 percent of the stores worldwide. See, you learned something you didn’t expect.
There was the standard fare of souvenir shops, all selling the same items, more or less. I was on the lookout for a hat, something of quality and different, but kept seeing the same cheap items over and over. There was one exception, a fellow making leather hats. I passed on the idea, but Leah insisted I reconsider. We never found him again.
I did end up buying another aloha shirt and replaced by aging belt. Leah picked up a T-shirt, shorts and a wrap to remember the trip by.
Something else that surprised me was the number of shops selling tailored suits. I have no idea how many we saw.
One day, while walking in front of one of them, a well-dressed man asked if I was interested in a new suit. Seriously, it’s something I’ve said recently. What better time than now?
We went inside the air-conditioned store (which sets it apart from most of our shopping), looked at designs and felt fabrics. He gave me some price ideas and talked about how long it would take. We left with his card to think about it.
A few blocks later, the same thing happened at another shop. Comparison shop, I instructed myself and we repeated the procedure. This fellow, though, measured me about a dozen different directions and pounded on a calculator a bit before quoting a price.
The prices seemed decent and I was aware I could probably talk them down, but I backed out for two reasons.
One, we were traveling – as is our style – with minimal luggage, so packing the suit would not be easy and I did not want to wear it some 40 hours on the trip home.
Two, what if I needed to take it back for some tweaks?