The Kind of Shopping I Love

Is Christmas shopping. Its true. And I love buying things for people that are unique or handmade. So I thought I would share some of the nifty things you can pick up if you ever visit Bangkok. And I am just getting started-last weekend we returned to Chinatown and explored Sampeng road and I talked to my hun about finding a shop other than Jim Thompson that sold real thai silk. So there are a lot more things for me to explore, but right now I am stocking up on the Christmas gifts to send back to the States.

Like these sensual flowy wood carvings. I can't get enough of them. At Chatuchuk Market you can hardly walk ten feet without passing a shop full of them. Some are flowery, some have elephants, and there is a whole lotta Buddha. For a mere $15 you can pick up a small panel to decorate your home, or pay more for something larger and carved from teak. My favorite shop specializes in the real teak carvings, and the shopkeeper sells some of his own creations that feature thai dancers and gold accents. I plan on going back to pick out some of those for myself!

I also found a shop that has hand-embroidered wall hangings, table cloths and bedspreads that will give you a fairly good price if you buy more than one item at a time. When it comes to bargaining, that is usually my approach. With things already so affordable, I just don't feel right trying to get a steal unless I'm working on getting two or three items from the shop. Its worked out well for me, and if the shopkeeper doesn't want to play, I don't feel bad just walking away.

So when these pretty fabrics caught my eye, I went in and grabbed a few pieces. Intended originally as a gift, I have to admit that I won't be able to be parted from this hand-stitched elephant bedspread. Its so bohemian and pretty, I want to look at it every day.


Then there are the nickknack shops that sell glittery and gilded home decor. Originally I shied away from them because I thought it would all be expensive, but it turns out I was wrong.

These pedestal/bowls were just about twenty dollars apiece, no bargaining allowed. I went back a week later and bought a second one so we would have a set. I think they would look amazing around Christmas with an arrangement of greens and some pillar candles. Yet they are still so very Thai.

And then I thought these were super cool. Simple one- or two-color silkscreen prints of thai motifs, for just 50 baht each. Again, I went back a week later and bought almost a dozen of them to send to friends or throw in my Buddha boxes. And I'm keeping a few to frame and put around our house as well. No one needs to know, except you, reader, that they only cost about $1.50!

As inexpensive as they are, I think they make a fantastic souvenir because most of them tell a story or have some significance in thai culture. Like this monster from thai folklore, or this battle scene that depicts King Rama. I'll look up the story before we hang these on the wall, it should be interesting!

I wish I could show more, but with November arriving tomorrow, I'll be gift-wrapping and sending off batches of gifts to our family very soon, and I wouldn't want to spoil their surprises. I just hope they don't mind getting something unusual this year. It has been SO MUCH FUN searching for gifts.

I even stumbled upon the information that my nanny's brother is the founder and designer of a very popular line of shirts, so we snapped up a bunch of those as well! I just guess it IS a small world after all.


jen said...

the elephant fabric is very pretty. you should keep it for you!