Our second night in Kanchanaburi. I’d busted my foot jumping from a height to catch sight of the train looming down the death railway, so I decided to stay put. Himself was itching to get out – probably away from me, if the truth be told – so he went wandering. He did what he usually does and followed the music. This is what he found.
In Thailand, as in much of Southeast Asia, daily life follows a pattern. Get up at dawn, work till it gets too hot, then take a long break, if possible sleeping next to a fan. Starting at about sunset, the best part of the day slowly begins. People wake up. The streets come alive with street food vendors selling fried and barbecued chicken and pork parts, fish, bananas, and many others that you can’t identify, and in some cases, things you don’t want to identify. Roasted scorpions for example.
Many towns in Thailand go beyond street food and have night markets or bazaars. We were staying on a riverfront floating house in Kanchanaburi near the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai, part of the Death Railroad built by Allied prisoners of war and forced Thai and Burmese labourers during World War II.
We had spent the day riding on the train, visiting Hellfire Pass, war cemeteries, and museums. It was getting late, and I was a bit hungry, so I decided to take a walk and see what I could find. I walked toward the sound of blaring music, which I presumed was coming from a noisy nightclub. Instead I stumbled upon what was by some way the best Night Market I had seen in Thailand. The first part looked like a carnival, complete with a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, merry-go-round, and other children’s rides.
A really touching scene was an area where there were about 20 child-sized tables with mums and dads sitting with their children painting with watercolours.
And yes there was a big stage with a live band playing and singing for all they were worth. Noisy and loud, but it added to the family atmosphere.
Then there was the night market itself. It sprawled in several directions. One covered aisle must have been a half kilometre long. Hundreds of stalls and shops. They sold everything and anything.
Food of course, and clothes and housewares and eyeglasses and automotive parts and shoes and dishes and cleaning supplies and mobile phones and phone covers and local handicrafts and…
…stunning locally made furniture…
…and a sprawling area of garden shops.
I still don’t know if what I stumbled on was something like a State Fair, or if this night market is a permanent feature of life in Kanchanaburi. But if you’re near the Bridge train station in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, of an evening, and you hear some blaring music, head towards the sound. You’re in for a treat!