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The Night Market Of Chaing Mai

- Hannah

Colorful tarps are strung over the square, but here and there patches of stars shine through the gaps. Crowds chatter and push, voices mixing and clashing to create a rolling ocean of sound. Vendors sit or stand at their stalls, some calling out loudly to passerby, others joking with eachother over the crowd’s incessant hum, and still others sit quietly on their stools, watching the world go by.

You are in the famous night market of Chaing Mai.

This market has been running ever since the city was first founded. It also happens to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in Chaing Mai. The best part about it: it was never intended for tourists, and the locals use it just as often as the sightseers do!

Here, beautiful paper lanterns dangle from strings, glowing softly in the thick haze that rises from the food stalls. Furniture is sold, along with stunning animal sculptures made from driftwood. Incredible designs are carved into wooden blocks, later to be transformed into intricate chairs and tables. Fat Buddha sculptures gleam cheerfully as golden candlelight reflects off of their polished wooden bellies. Children chase eachother around, offering customers everything from jewelry and pieces of art to crickets on sticks.

In another section, beautiful silks are carefully stacked in tall piles, and women painstakingly stitch lovely outfits into existence. If you can imagine an outfit, it can be made here. While the women sew, the men set up chairs outside the shops and give the occasional passerby a quick shave for a low fee.

But the most exciting section of the market is the one where foods of every shape and kind are sold. Meat, in all it’s various forms, roasted, fried, raw. Vegetables chopped into interesting shapes and sold on sticks. Noodles, noodles everywhere. In styrofoam containers with cashew nuts and peanuts on top, with chicken and garlic, and most popularly, in soup with a thin broth and plenty of vegetables. Old men with wrinkled faces peer out at the world with glittering black eyes as they slurp up their soup, wielding chopsticks with incredible skill. Have you ever seen someone eat soup with chopsticks? Trust me, it’s worth seeing!

At about midnight, the market begins to wind down. Vendors yawn as they close up their shops. Tourists reluctantly wander away. Locals head home, carting their purchases in cyclos or on their backs.

Tomorrow night, all will return and Chaing Mai’s night market will burst back into vibrant action!

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