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Stores stay closed in Macau

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closed stores in MacauOne thing I still haven’t figured out about Macau is why you see so many closed shops downtown.

It seems that at all times of the day, at least half of the stores have their metal shutters down or iron grates drawn. Or both.

There’s no information about opening hours, no sign ‘Out to lunch’ or any indication whether these shops will ever open up again.

half the shops are closedIt seems that on any downtown shopping street, at least half of the stores will be permanently closed.

Is this due to the current financial crisis? Were all these shopkeepers forced out of business?

Or do they just open at such irregular hours that I never happen to chatch their stores open?

Things are different in Macau than in other Asian cities

The Macau shop-opening hours are definitely in stark contrast to practices on the Chinese mainland.

closed shop in MacauStores in Beijing or Shanghai, for instance, seem to be open for business almost around the clock.

The same applies to cities in other Asian countries like Vietnam or Cambodia.

I wonder why.

But whenever I’ll think of Macau in the future, I’ll remember it as the place with the drawn shutters.

Written by Thorsten

May 15, 2009 at 7:21 am

Shopping at the world’s biggest market

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Chatuchak weekend market in BangkokI’ve been to Bangkok dozens of times – it’s the hub I always have to go through when I’m travelling to another Asian country on business.

But if I thought I’d seen all the major sights in Bangkok, I was proven wrong on this stay.

I finally managed to head out to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. So far, I’d always thought it would be too far out (way in the north of the city). But I guess I must have had things a little wrong.

Yes, the weekend market is on the outskirts of Bangkok, but the city’s new subway has a stop right in the center of the market.

Actually, you can choose between two different subway stops if you want to get to Chatuchak – that might give you an idea how big this weekend market is.

It’s billed as the world’s biggest market

You can reach Chatuchak Weekend Market by getting off the Chatuchak Park subway stop or by getting off at Kamphaeng Phet Station. I’d recommend the latter, because that lands you right near the market’s entrance gate one.

Map of Chatuchak weekend market in BangkokGate one is a good place to start because this is where you can pick up a market map. And believe me: if you don’t want to get lost or risk missing the best parts of this huge market, it’s a good idea to take one of those maps along.

Chatuchak is the only market I know that actually publishes a map. This market is really almost the size of a small city.

To make life on the shoppers a little easier, the market is subdivided into streets and 28 sections. In some sections, you’ll find t-shirts, in others handicrafts, pets or antiques.

There’s no way to say how many vendors sell at this market. I’ve seen numbers published from 10 000 to 15 000 stalls.

The selection is overwhelming

I think you should be able to find any product made in Thailand on this market. And at great prices.

Chatuchak weekend market in BangkokI couldn’t believe how cheap Thai souvenirs were at Chatuchak.

(Sorry if I’m beginning to sound like an info-mercial, but I was really overwhelmed by this place.)

Whether it was Thai silk, wood carvings, mother-of-pearl or porcelain – everything I saw here seemed much cheaper than at retail stores throughout the country.

I guess you pay something close to the retail price at Chatuchak Weekend Market.

Facts and figures

O.k. – after all the raving, here some fast facts for those among us who love numbers and figures: Chatuchak is supposedly number one in the world when it comes to weekend markets.

Other sources are a little more cautious and just say it’s “…one of the world’s largest weekend markets.”

Chatuchak covers some 28 acres and has over 200 000 visitors each Saturday and Sunday. The large majority of those visitors (approximately 70 %) are Thais.

Water lilies on sale at Chatuchak weekend market in BangkokSo you see that this isn’t your average  “let’s rip off the tourists-market”.

It’s a place where the Thais come to shop (which explains some of the sections of the market: furniture, plants, pets – I guess you wouldn’t carry any of that home in your backpack after an Asian vacation…

Oh, and two more interesting trivia: Chatuchak Weekend Market has its own little electric train that drives shoppers around the market for free.Miniature train at Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok

And – unlike markets in Europe or the US – it also has booths that offer foot massages for those who just can’t take another step.

Written by Thorsten

December 21, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Window shopping

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Many shops in Bhutan aren’t actually stores you can go into.

They are basically just store windows.

You do your shopping from the outside and tell the shopkeeper inside what you want.

And to make things easier for children or smaller Bhutanese, there is usually a little stepladder in front of the shop window

You’ll often also see people sitting on the top step of these ladders, chatting with the shopkeeper inside the store

Since you can’t go into the one-room shop to browse, the store windows also serve as showcases for what’s on sale.

That’s why they are usually totally overloaded with merchandise: strings of candy, bananas, shoelaces, mints, belts, pineapples, potato chips.

Sometimes these little shop windows display more stuff than the SEARS catalogue.

Written by Thorsten

October 14, 2008 at 5:07 am

Where monks go shopping

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This week, you can see even more Buddhist monks on the streets of Thimphu than usual. The city is bathed in the saffron red color of their robes.

The Buddhist monks and nuns have come to town for the Tshechu, a four-day religious festival. It’s the highlight of the social year and always takes place in early October.

For the Thimphu shopkeepers, the Tsechu means good business. Many of them have put on special sales because of the festival.

I guess you could compare that to Christmas or Thanksgiving Day sales elsewhere – although the Thimphu shopping complexes can’t quite compare to Florida’s Sawgrass Mills Mall…

Special shops for special needs

Buddhist monk fashion doll

Buddhist monk fashion doll

The nice thing about shopping in Thimphu, however, is that there are no chain stores, only a lot of specialty shops.

Anything from places selling Bhutanese handicrafts to fabric stores specialising in the cloth the national costumes are made of.

And what’s even nicer is that there are even shops catering to the large community of Buddhist monks. So they, too, can join the holiday shopping frenzy.

The shop of Gasep Sangay Wangdi Tshongkhang, for instance, specialises in “readymade garments for monks”.

Inside the small shop, all you see is the saffron red of the monks’ robes. The shelves are piled high with monks’ shirts and undergarments.

Other shelves are stacked with the rectangular pieces of cloth the monks drape around their shoulders.

Gasep Sangay offers these pieces of fabric that are roughly the size of a beach towel in all shades of red – anything from the darkest burgundy to a pale tomato red.

If the fashion-conscious monk isn’t sure about which shade of maroon will suit him best, the two shopgirls will gladly help him pick out just the right color and cloth quality.

But hopefully they won’t jeopardize the monks’ vows of celibacy when they help them in and out of their robes.

Written by Thorsten

October 11, 2008 at 2:48 pm

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