Buying trips are nothing but hard, hard grind. Honestly. And the occasional wonderful meal … particularly in Thailand.
We spent two days at Chakuchat Market in Bangkok, remaking contact with existing producers and seeking out new contact and products.
Imagine pacing backwards and forwards in a 4 kilometre long sauna while pushing past 200,000 shoppers and a million different products and you will get the gist of it. The market is 1.1 square kilometres in size (27 acres for farmers out there) and contains 15,000 different stalls. Plants, t-shirts, incense, jewellery, art, dream catchers, lighting, cuddly toys, carvings, electrical products, kitchenware, pencils, candles … the list is endless.
There is food and drink everywhere, to keep everyone going. People eat at their stalls so it is not unusual to see a clothing shop, say, with a dining room table in the middle of it and five or six people enjoying tom yam noodles or sticky rice with mango and so on.
The place is a maze lover maze; intersecting alleyways, all covered with plastic sheeting to keep in the warmth as it is only 36 degrees C outside and we don’t want shoppers to catch a cold.
Every tenth stall appears to be offering Thai foot massages, where people relax within a plastic tent beneath the plastic sheeting roof while someone pokes hard thumb tips into aching feet or tries to teach tired legs to rotate a full 360 degrees without snapping your leg off.
Everything is busy busy business; haggling, chatting, or sitting surrounded by products playing on your smart phone. After 8 hours of this on Saturday, still in the throws of a full on jetlag, Jeremy and I were dead on our feet and totally disorientated, which is why we took a tuktuk back to the hotel. Watching a young woman riding pillion on the back of a motorbike without a helmet, with both hands and both eyes focused 100% on her smart phone was like watching a blindfolded ski-jumper hurtling towards the abyss.
Back on the Sunday to finish what we started. Sustained by coconut milk and coconut ice cream and iced coffee we made all the contacts we were looking for and more. Autumn will see some fantastic new products alongside the many bestsellers produced in this bustling hustling country.