|Pennant flags, dry floors, and the pleasing wooden beams impressed me at this wet market.|
"This is one fancy wet market." That was my first thought as my Chiang Mai cooking class walked through on a mission to buy ingredients for that day's dishes. It's funny because it's such a contrast to what I would have thought if I was fresh off the plane from America. That gal would have found the place exotic and rustic, not necessarily fancy.
|Fresh produce laid out on leaves|
The very first time I visited a wet market was about 15 years ago on my whirlwind, 4-countries-in-3-weeks tour of Southeast Asia. I remember my mom screaming aloud in surprise when someone with a very large knife brought an abrupt end to a fish's life. Now that I live in Malaysia, I hit the wet market weekly for produce that's 3 times fresher and half as cheap as the grocery store. I've always meant to take pictures of my local market, but frankly, the fluorescent lighting is awful, and I'm too busy carrying my cumbersome shopping basket.
|The fish are very much alive in that large tub. Her grill is to the right. Now that's fresh!|
When I was traveling in Chiang Mai, I finally had the luxury of two free hands for taking photos and a market with good, natural lighting. This one had wooden beams and supports as opposed to the industrial feel of concrete columns at my own market. As I walked around, I was impressed by how dry this wet market is. At my Malaysia market, I'm used to slogging through puddles of melted ice mixed with chicken blood and whatnot. This Thai market actually had gutters on the table edges that channeled the watery runoff down a tube, through a hole and, I assume, into some sort of holding container or floor drain. No cacophonous coconut shredder whirred in the background. Goods were laid out neatly on charming baskets and trays. Some items were pleasingly packaged with English labels. It was like the Whole Foods of Asian wet markets.
|Dried peppers, dried lemongrass and Tom Yum herbs|
|Snacks ready to grab and go|
My husband suspects that this might be a market aimed squarely at tourists because of the lack of locals shopping there. I'm not so sure as it was late in the morning, and the local crowd may have peaked hours beforehand like it does in Malaysia. As someone who has had her own routine market trips interrupted by tour groups, I took pity on the locals since this market seemed popular with various cooking schools. Imagine being at your hometown grocery store, but you can't reach the apples because a tour group is blocking your way marveling at how picturesque the apples are.
|For some reason, I laughed that Bananas in particular are labeled in English.|
|Grilled satay and other meats|
I could gauge how well I've transitioned into Southeast Asian expat life by how many of the exotic fruits and vegetables I could identify at a glance. Hairy rambutan didn't stump me. I couldn't resist the memory of the taste of sweet, juicy mangosteens that burst into my mind as soon as I saw them on the tray, and I ended up buying a few for a snack. As our cooking school tour guide quizzed the group by holding up palm sugar, turmeric, galangal and torch ginger, I had to keep my mouth shut lest I spoil the fun by sounding like the class know-it-all. However, I did come away learning that the mystery veggie in my previous night's curry dish was a golf ball sized, baby eggplant. Raw meat sitting out unrefrigerated no longer grosses me out, but flies crawling all over the meat still does.
|Remember my previous post about my dislike of organ meat?|
Guess my thoughts on raw organ meat with flies.
Now that I'm back to my regular routine of shopping at my local wet market, I find myself longing for the fancy one in Chiang Mai.
|Various curry powders sold in bulk|
Dirty, Hungry Elephants
Chiang Mai Sunday Market
The Ruins of Chiang Mai's Chedi Luang Temple
Visiting the Long Neck Tribe
Getting Lay's in Thailand
This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Traveler's Sandbox and Oh the Places I've Been on The Tablescaper . Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.