BK magazine comes up with new lists and favorites every week. Usually I skim through them just to keep up to date or to keep away from certain places as they get super crowded.
I scrolled through the list of Best Outdoor markets without a particular interest – markets, me…usually only if I am on a sightseeing tour with friends – but stopped in my tracks when I saw a picture of the dockyards that are just across the river from the Ibis Hotel and right next to the Sathorn pier. I have seen the place many times while sitting on a ferry going to Chatrium hotel or Asiatique. I noticed naval ships and sometimes smaller yachts that moored there. The dockyards don’t seem to be very busy, but then there are lights on most evenings and the docks are sometimes flooded. The work of course is mostly done during the day.
So, I thought: what is interesting about this place that it made it on the favorite list? In December the Dock Yards celebrated its 150th anniversary. Thai people love markets almost as much as eating, and it seemed natural that an important milestone as this anniversary should be marked with a market.
To get to the Docks, one walks south on Charoen Krung road, away from the BTS skytrain station. About 5-10 minutes down the road is a small entrance that leads to the docks. Once in the yard, it opens up into a huge space with two docks and lots of parking spaces.
The weekend of the market, one of the docks was flooded and sported a naval vessel on which a stage was mounted and lights and loud speakers had been set up for some concerts. The other dock was dry. In previous years, there were also market booth at the bottom of the dock itself, but this seemed to be too dangerous this year. I found some reference on the internet, although they mentioned that they had improved security.
The market stalls were set up along the side of the yard towards the street, between the two docks and on the north side along a huge warehouse. The warehouse was also open for the public, housing an exhibition of the history of Bangkok around this part of town, the docks and an architectural model of the planned developments along the river in the coming years.
The market was targeted at upper middle class, upper class Thais and foreigners. It felt more like an exhibition of the latest, funkiest boutiques in town interspersed with food stalls offering mostly European or American food. A friend of mine found expensive Italian shoes – which I thought was odd as he annually shops in Italy.
Nianne Lynn tweeted:
The interesting part about the market was the empty dock. Although no market stalls were set up down there, it was accessible to the public. Narrow high steps led from the top to the bottom. Except for a warning sign, there was no other security precaution. Everyone could climb down and up. I waited several minutes until it was my turn. I cautiously clung to the wall and lowered myself into the dock one step at the time. No looking up and down. Just get through this. Once down there, there was not much to do, but looking up.
This was when I really fell in love with this market. The photo ops were just too amazing. Whether it was the perfect sky or the perfect evening, in any case, it was worth coming out just for that.