Even though scores of tourists had been here, the experience I was having was still my own.
Before any big trip, I always head to the travel section at a bookstore, leaf through each and every travel book for my destination city, and spend far too much money on the most colorful and comprehensive one I can find. Even though I hardly ever open the book after the plane ride, something about buying the guidebook and even having it in my possession gets me in the mindset for the trip. A few days before I left for Thailand, I performed the usual ritual and landed on a guide to Thailand. I took a good look through it on my plane ride over, starring and underlining a few activities near me that sounded interesting. But after being in Krabi a few days, I quickly forgot about the book and the mental plans it had inspired. Following local advertisements and simply asking around became my primary travel guide for the trip.
But recently, I kept hearing people – friends, other tourists, locals – talking about the Krabi Weekend Night Market. “Where have I heard about that before,” I asked myself. Five weeks before, waiting out my layover between Bangkok and Krabi, I had put two stars around that heading and underlined its location and open hours. For the last few weeks I enjoyed choosing activities a little off the beaten path. After living in the area for an extended period of time and learning my way around, I felt more integrated into Krabi life and less like the tourist that, in reality, I was. Even so, it was important for me to remember that certain attractions make it into these guidebooks for a reason. Its recommendation in print and its potential to be very touristy were not reasons to avoid the experience. So I decided this weekend, I would check out the market.
A few days later, Friday night, I parked my motorbike at the entrance to the walking street in Krabi town. Smoke and strange smells billowed up from food carts, souvenirs flew off stands into the hands of foreigners and a Thai woman’s singing filled the air by way of speakers set up beside a stage at the market’s center. Surrounded by a sea of fellow tourists, I navigated my way through the rows of vendors. Although there were more foreigners here than anywhere else I had been in Krabi, I took pleasure in my identity as a tourist. I snatched up souvenirs for my family and friends, bargained for a couple of fake jade rings for myself, and grabbed a skewer of grilled prawns and a bag of cut pineapple to munch on. My favorite stop was the ice cream stand near the exit, where a woman was pouring cream, fruit, and other toppings onto a circular metal disc that froze the mixture into ice cream. When it was my turn, she poured yogurt onto the disc with strawberries and chocolate sprinkles. As they spread out on the surface and froze solid, almost like a crepe, she scraped up the frozen yogurt into a cup and handed it to me for 50 Baht (under $2.) As I enjoyed my ice cream on the way out, I was relieved I hadn’t missed out on the market simply because I knew it was a tourist hub. Even though scores of tourists had been here before and would visit in the future, the experience I was having was still my own.
Article written by Anna Carey.