Chinatown

While is seems there is a Chinatown in every big city around the world, frequently they are either of no particular interest to tourists or heavily contrived experiences - nothing more than a fancy gateway and hundreds of dim sum restaurants.

Not so in Bangkok, where Chinatown is humming with activity. With hundreds of streets and alleyways running off Th. Yarowat to be explored, it is a great place to wander and sample various street eats, peek into little workshops and visit Chinese pagodas. We enjoyed Chinatown immensely, and would highly recommend spending an afternoon exploring on foot. Be wary of the traffic though as it gets very heavy in the evenings

Along Sampeng La (Soi Want 1), an alleyway that runs parallel to Th. Yarowat, about a hundred yards to the south, is a seemingly endless row of shop fronts, so close together their awnings form a roof keeping the air underneath cool and making the heat bearable. In this dense alley lies an amazing collection off goods that one could imagine comes direct from the factories in China; shoes, hats, belts, jewellery, toys, household goods and more all cluster underneath the tarpaulins that shade the street.

At budget prices and with plenty of shops only offering wholesale this could be a good place to pick up a bargain - personally I just enjoyed exploring with a sense of wonder at the immense amount of stuff- rubbish or otherwise - that we collectively produce as a species. Do we need it? We know its not sustainable, often not even useful, yet we carry on buying, building and selling. Irrelevant to a travel site perhaps but a walk through the market certainly made my mind wander much further than the next row of watches, a real insight into the insane industrial output of this world.. it all got a little existential under those tarps!

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