BANGKOK — The popular JJ Weekend Market was still half-empty days after it reopened for business during the coronavirus pandemic, but the same cannot be said about its vintage flea market.
Chatuchak Playground Flea Market, where one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, was back in business over the weekend with a vigor that preceded the pandemic. During a visit on Sunday, the crowds were a diverse group of young Thais, Chinese shoppers, and Western tourists.
One might even mistake the pandemic as over, if not because of health screening checkpoints, hand gels placed around the market, and the ubiquitous mask-wearing.
Here, in a cluster of about 60 shops, customers rummage through antique whiskey, Thai-Chinese signboards of old shophouses, and furniture and tea sets from the past – you name it, anything old could be found here at a reasonable price.
The market is a newcomer. Bangkok’s Klong Thom neighborhood used to be the place for the trade, but City Hall killed it, intentionally or not, for the sake of improved sanitation and the end of shops encroaching on public lands.
In a contrast to the labyrinth of Klong Thom, Chatuchak Playground Flea Market is clean and orderly, yet it maintains a raw diversity that manages to entice customers from all walks of life.
Some vendors also sought refuge here after other markets were closed down. One of them is old books and chinaware seller Apiwat Yotwat, who used to sell in the Saphan Kwai neighborhood, but moved here following the virus outbreak.
Close to the market, there’s also the air-conditioned Bangsue Junction mall, with three storeys of upscale vintage shops, though it’s currently still closed due to coronavirus shutdown measures.
That’s for another story altogether.
Chatuchak Playground Flea Market opens every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 8pm. The market is a minute walk to the left from Exit 1 of MRT Kamphaeng Phet station.