The three women are discussing the satisfaction of having some of Fong’s egg tarts versus the damage this will do to their diets. It was a conversation I could definitely identify with.
My one full day in Hong Kong consisted of cloudy weather with just bits of sun peaking through in the morning. Not a day for images of magnificent Hong Kong vistas, but there was still no shortage of photo-worthy material out there. The elderly couple here is opening their tiny locksmith business in Sheung Wan for the day. Not being too many years away from where they are now, I found myself wondering how they get by on what they earn from their little business. And whether they choose to keep working every day or have no choice but to do so.
This gold shop in a Chiang Mai market catering primarily to local residents is almost certainly owned by a Chinese Thai. Ethnically Chinese Thai families, many of whom have been in Thailand for generations, in some cases for hundreds of years, dominate the small businesses in local markets. While these Chinese Thais are thoroughly assimilated into Thai society, they remain part of the Chinese trading networks that exist throughout Southeast Asia. The Chinese style decoration on the shop’s door and the neon-lit Chinese characters above the woman’s head make it clear that the shop caters to, among others, the many Chinese who visit Chiang Mai every year.
The Chinese women are shopping for cosmetics at the night bazaar in Chiang Mai while their boyfriends look on. In the second image, the vendor in the green tee shirt on the right has punched in a price on his calculator and is ready to begin the haggling festivities. This will take place in English and be rather amusing, as nobody involved speaks much English.
This night bazaar vendor sells colored wax flowers displayed in small black bowls. There are many vendors selling these at the night bazaar. They sit around carving pieces of wax when waiting for customers – there are carvings on this man’s table in front of the wallet. But it was unclear to me where the coloring is done, because I did not see anybody doing this in the market. Nor was it clear to me that vendors like this one personally made all of the flowers sitting on the tables in front of them. In any case, this man is counting what appears to be a fairly meager take for the evening.
Chiang Mai has a huge night bazaar in the downtown area. Shops indoors and stalls that set up every afternoon outdoors, all loaded with plenty of stuff nobody really needs. Lots of people wandering around buying that stuff. And finally, when your bag is full of stuff you don’t need, there are plenty of places to eat. Amongst the restaurants are several fairly pricey—at least by local standards—seafood places. Given that Chiang Mai is several hundred kilometers from the ocean, I could not help but wonder what fresh crabs and oysters were doing sitting on piles of ice in a local night market. Until I recalled that Chinese are obsessed with seafood and will pay big money to eat it. And sure enough, most the diners in the night bazaar seafood places are Chinese.
The young guy in the photo is turning a whole fish wrapped in foil that is cooked on the big open air grill. I did not want to gawk and point my camera at diners in the restaurant, so I did not walk over to the tables to see how the fish is finally served, but I have no doubt it is tasty.
Grapes imported from where else—California—are a pricey treat available in Chiang Mai markets. I have seen them go for about $5.25 a pound in supermarkets, though I am sure they are less in an outdoor wet market like the one in the photo. In a place where a mango costs 50 cents or so, these grapes are expensive. People pick them off the stems and take the individual grapes away in a plastic bag. Thailand has a Muslim minority in the south of the country near the border it shares with Malaysia, but this trip to the market was the first time I saw women wearing the hajib here in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand.