In July I visited Chiang Mai again, and made a point of arriving on a Sunday, just in time for the weekly night market that stretches for more than a kilometre along Ratchadamnoen Road and is by far the friendliest and most relaxed market I’ve experienced. The stallholders are almost universally cheerful, and no-one badgers or chases after you to secure a purchase. The wares on offer feel generally more the product of local craft and production, as opposed to the half-dozen different T-shirt designs and mass-produced souvenirs typically found at markets in south-east Asia. The market seems more organised than it did when I last visited Chiang Mai a couple of years ago; the rain this time around didn’t cause anywhere near as many power failures by getting into the mess of electrical cables strung between stalls and across the street.
Ratchadamnoen Road is sometimes referred to as Walking Street, in reference to the market, or it could be that Walking Street refers to the market itself. Either way, the Sunday market seems to be prospering and increasing in popularity with both locals and tourists. The complete closure of the street to traffic helps create a pleasant relaxed environment, as does the easy availability of authentic local food and the presence of artisans carving, painting and blowing glass figurines for the onlooking crowds. The stallholders weren’t very interested in bargaining, but neither did I feel that I was being overcharged for being a farang (not a guava!).
Night is, for obvious reasons, the worst time to take photographs, and I have a tendency to be overly optimistic about how steady my hands are, which results in a lot of satisfaction at the time of shooting but a corresponding degree of frustration later as I sit down to process the night’s takings. Despite this, I managed to salvage a handful of shots that I think capture some of the atmosphere of the street, and I hope they convey it to you.