Recently, I’ve begun to realize I spend far too much time shopping at major chain stores in Bangkok, Thailand and less time than i should buying things at Thailand’s independent stores and market stalls. There’s no excuse for it really, as Bangkok has more independent sellers than I’ve ever seen anywhere and, as they’re often cheaper than the chain stores and supermarkets, it’s a bit ridiculous I’m not shopping there.
So, this week, I decided to break my habit of shopping at major chain stores in Bangkok and, instead, to do the bulk of my buying at some of the best of Thailand’s independent stores and market stalls in my area of town.
Not surprisingly, other than having to buy bread and milk at 7-Eleven and a bag of imported German hay for my rabbits at Tops supermarket, I’ve managed to buy everything I needed and support local Thai independent sellers at the same time.
Unsurprisingly too, my grocery bill this week has been even cheaper than normal, yet I’ve ended up with more food. And, the fruit and vegetables I’ve bought at street markets have been cheaper than at my local Tesco Lotus and a helluva lot fresher. My rabbits seem happier with them too.
That’s why I’m recommending you avoid shopping at international chain stores in Bangkok where at all possible, and buy from small independent sellers instead.
Let’s face it, many small sellers in Thailand live on less than 10,000 baht ($345) a month and need all the custom you can give them a lot more than do mega-corporations like Tesco Lotus and Big C. Plus, as the food small sellers cook and sell in Bangkok is often fresher, cheaper and, of course, a lot tastier than similar food at chain supermarkets and stores, it seems a bit daft to not be buying it there.
So, what did I buy at my local twice weekly street market today and how much did it cost?:
3 heads of kale
2 heads of lettuce
1/4 of a large pumpkin
2 bundles of cilantro
3 bundles of Chinese celery
4 bundles of holy basil
1 packet of 4 tomatoes
1/4 of a watermelon — chopped
1/4 of a pineapple — chopped
10 free-range fresh eggs
a bunch of 7 bananas
3 packets of Kleenex tissues
4 Thai desserts (very tasty jellies and a couple of bags of pumpkin in coconut milk)
The total cost? 295 baht or exactly $10 and, man, is this stuff fresh!!