Walking Streets ~ Koh Samui, Thailand
Carved Soap in decorated wooden boxes: Mae Nam's Walking Street
“Eating, sleeping and shopping.”
If you ask a Thai to name the country’s three favourite pastimes, this is what they will tell you. “Chatting” (คุยกันเล่น) comes a close fourth. As a general rule, Thai people value relaxing and having a good time.
I was reminded of this on our recent visit to Koh Samui. When we are on the island, we get so busy coping with the vagaries of dealing with tradespeople and agents that we don’t explore the “everyday” as often as we might. Every week nearby towns close a stretch of narrow roadway to traffic and let the already-crouded-markets flow into the roadway. Here, Thais (and visitors) can indulge in eating, shopping and chatting to their hearts’ content.
The Wednesday evening Mae Nam Walking Street is still relatively quiet.
A friend of mine who lives on the island reminded us about the Wednesday evening “Walking Street” in the little town of Mae Nam. While I find evening markets a photographic challenge because of the light (or lack thereof) and the crowded spaces, they are also a great opportunity to meet and chat with local people.
Soap Carver ~ Mae Nam
The soap is pressed into a mould before carving.
The carved soaps are so intricate, I wouldn't want to use them.
"But they smell nice, and last a long time," she told me in Thai.
My next stop was to admire the butterfly jewellery ~
The young woman selling the jewellery told me she usually sells these pieces in Phuket, but the tsunami warnings had made the markets there very quiet.
She told us her family in Chiang Mai made the jewellery, sourcing the best orchids and butterflies (who had died of natural causes, she assured us) from around the area.
Colourful cordials or presses over ice are still popular market drinks in Thailand.
This cold-drink stand is ready to roll.
Food is ALWAYS close at hand in Thailand: here a man is ready to make fresh banana pancakes on demand.
Amazing what you can buy on the Walking Street!
At the bottom of the Walking Street in Mae Nam there is a Chinese temple where you can pop in to make an offering.
We weren’t available Friday, when the “Fisherman’s Village” of neighbouring Bo Phut holds its weekly “Walking Street”, so we had to duck cars, busses and bikes as we explored the restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques of Thanon Haad Bo Phut.
In Fisherman's Village, old buildings mix ~
~ with stylish, up-market villas.
Shops are crowded with wooden products...
... inside and out.
Colour and patterns abound.
Take a break from the street and wander out onto the old wooden pier; still very much in use.
From the pier, you can pick out your dining options.
Dining in style on the beach at Bo Phut.
We settled for a rather more modest dining location, but it doesn’t matter: on Samui, even in the “cheap seats”, you usually get a beautiful view with your dinner.
Koh Samui offers up another beautiful sunset.
Eating, sleeping, shopping – and chatting.
Not a bad way to live, really.