Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bangkok: Sampeng Market (This ain't JoAnn's)

With all the flooding going on in Thailand right now, Bangkok has been on my mind a lot lately. I felt the urge to go back and share some of the happy times I had there this summer. It's resilient city, and I know, with time, it will recover. My heart goes out to the good people in this trying time.

Crafty Treasures from Thailand

When I was in Bangkok this summer, one of my favorite days was the crafty "girl's day out" my Thai hostess invited me to. We left the husbands and her kids snoring away, and were on the road by 8 a.m. to discover the crafty treasures awaiting us in the labyrinthine corridors of the Sampeng Market.

Sampeng Market

Located in Chinatown, this market tends to be a bit off the tourist trail. Though, if you have a crafting bone in your body, Sampeng is a must-see. It's jam-packed with fabrics, notions, yarns, and beads, as well as hair decorations, school supplies, toys, clothing, housewares, and "exotic" snacks (oh, how I miss you, salted snow plums).  Even better, it's all relatively inexpensive, though it really helped that I was with a local who could help me haggle.

Sampeng Bead Store 2

Our first crafty stop was at one of the biggest bead stores in the market. I was drawn in by the walls lined with bags of colorful sequins, and followed the glittery trail back to find a cavernous room lined with sacks of rhinestones and beads. It took me a bit to explain to the nice employees that I wanted smaller quantities of beads, not smaller sizes of beads themselves, but once I did I walked out with some gorgeous rhinestones and hand-made polymer clay flowers.

Sampeng Bead Store 1

 After a bit more shopping for hair accessories and gifts (as well as a new pair of embroidery scissors to replace the ones confiscated in Taipei), we stopped for lunch. We simply stepped out of the flow of traffic to a noodle vendor, and perched ourselves at the wee stall-side table while they cooked up our meal on the spot.

Sampeng Lunch

I have to admit, I felt a bit like an adult sitting at a child's table, though by then I was getting used to being the biggest person around. You can see just how little the stools were from the background of this picture. Comfy for Thais, not so much for plus-size Farang women.

Sampeng Noodles 2

After a tasty lunch, we browsed some more. I was in high shopping mode. I picked up a Japanese quilting magazine for my mom, tons of beautifully patterned cotton fabric, numerous spools of thread, and some fine crochet yarn for my friend back home. It was a beautiful, crafty haul.

Sampeng Yarns

I haven't begun projects with most of the materials yet, but I'm waiting for the right ideas to strike. These are once-in-a-lifetime treasures for me, so when I finally do make something, I want it to be the right something.

Fabrics from Thailand

1 comment:

Jokke said...

Wonderful colorful treasures for sure!