What a fun afternoon & early evening we had in Lampang, Thailand. We started at the modern Central Plaza, where Paula & her sister did a bunch of banking, while my brother and I both had two scoops of delicious Swenson’s ice cream. Then we shopped for some groceries at Tops Market.
We headed back to the car for a short drive to downtown Lampang for the weekly Saturday night street market. We’ve been there many times, but I was always focused on what the vendors were selling. This time, before we got there Paula had pointed out that many of the buildings down the street where the market is held are a gorgeous Portuguese style of wooden buildings. So when we got there I actually looked at the buildings for a change & then started taking a LOT of pictures. Of course, she was right. See some of the pictures at the link I provided above.
We walked all the way to the Rachada Bridge, then part way out on the bridge to watch the swallows flying about during the sunset. During the walk back we stopped to look at some amazing carved water buffalo horns that my brother had spotted before we reached the bridge. This was amazing detailed art work that had been produced by an 80 year old man, near the end of his life. When my brother first told us about it, I joked that maybe it cost 100 baht. My brother said surely not, as it had certainly been produced over dozens of hours of detailed etching. So then I guessed it might be 2,000 baht. Once I saw it, I asked the nice lady what the selling price was. It was 1,500 baht (about 50 USD). That was for two large decorated horns, plus two small horns that had been carved into the shape of realistic looking birds. I would have bought them immediately, except my wife didn’t love them. And on reflection, I wasn’t sure it would be to legal to take them out of Thailand. The seller was very gracious and let me take a picture of them and we proceeded along the way, excited about having witnessed such beautiful artwork.
Backing up a bit, I will mention that it was very hard finding parking, because so many people had come for the market. We were lucky to finally grab a parking spot just past the corner where perhaps the favorite restaurant of the locals is located. So as we nearly got back to our car, we instead went across the street and entered Aroy One Baht Restaurant for dinner. I had eaten there myself at least twice and I really wanted my brother to experience this amazing place!
The restaurant is in a lovely wood building, which is nearly always full of people eating. We were immediately pointed to the dining area upstairs and after we climbed the flight of stairs, we were quickly directed to an empty table in the corner by an open window. The table actually consisted of three sewing machine tables lined up together, each one still having its iron treadle attached at the bottom. We looked over the large menu (over ten pages) with color pictures of each dish. My brother and I looked over the English edition of the menu and my wife and her sister looked over the Thai version. Most of the entrees were 40 or 50 baht each, and some around 25 baht, that is, all under $1 to a bit over $1. This is a good time to mention that Aroy in the name of the place means “yummy” and the One Baht in the name refers to the price for an order of rice. Of course this pricing encourages people to order a variety of dishes, as they are so affordable.
We ordered 8-10 entrees for the four of us and the bill for the dinner came to $12, no tip required, or even expected. It would have been $10, but I couldn’t resist ordering a Chang Beer, the only beer I’ve ever really liked. It turned out to be one of their large bottles, so I didn’t even try to drink it all. The $12 tab reminded me of the first time I took the family to this place. I had no idea about the reputation for affordable pricing, so I was quite shocked when the bill for that meal arrived. It almost made me feel guilty for taking advantage of these people. Almost.
Maybe you’re wondering whether I bought anything at the street market. I did indeed. An older man was selling one variety of plant, which folks were calling a butterfly plant. It’s leaves look exactly like a butterfly. He had a simple written sign that said they were 30 baht each. Each one was planted in a tiny black plastic pot of dirt, with a single thin stalk going up a foot or two to a bunch of these amazing butterfly leaves. I spotted an unusually nice one and bought it immediately. Our plant has nine of the butterfly leaves on it. The next morning I discovered its true identity on the Internet, Christia obcordata, Butterfly plant or Swallowtail, native to Southeast Asia and Brazil, an ornamental, herbaceous and perennial plant.
What an exciting night it was!