Nakhorn Kasem Thieves’ Market

Nakhorn Kasem Thieves’ Market

This unusual market is no longer what its title seems to suggest, although a few of the goods on sale may well have found their way here without the owner’s consent.

The goods on sale are far more likely to be unclaimed goods from pawnshops and some of them are clever and legitimate copies of things you might have found in your house 50-100 years ago.

Take wind-up phonographs for instance. Remember them? Remember 78 rpm shellac records? You’ll find these here and very attractive they are too. But they’re manufactured locally, and as long as you don’t believe the seller’s spiel that the instrument is 83 years old, you’ll get a reasonable price.

And the antique zither, or two-string local violin – no it’s not 200 years old, and it wasn’t played in an important royal household – but it still plays and this time, unlike the phonograph, it is genuinely old.

Ships’ lamps? Why not? Useful to put at your gate to light your way to the door when you come home slightly the worse for beer.

And no home is complete without an old-fashioned ice-cream maker. I don’t know how I managed for so long without one.

The vintage musical instruments are very attractive. Mozart would probably have found little use for one in his compositions, but is not difficult to imagine a gathering of local music-makers outside an old-style Thai house 100 years ago, playing a tune against a background of chirping cicadas and tokay lizard cries.

In Thai, the bowed instrument is called a saw-uu and the one we saw was claimed to be 164 years old. It would have been played in a string ensemble called a mahoree, which provided the music for khon-style performances of Thai historical dramas performed at the court.

Best of all I liked ranat, traditional xylophones made of wood and played with wooden strikers. The ranat are hammock-shaped and even if you don’t want to play them, they make splendid ornaments for the house.

Just place them high enough to be inaccessible to your children.

A chakes, a stringed instrument shaped like a crocodile, would be an unusual buy. Not for me just now thanks, but you go ahead.

Other interesting buys: ancient wicker chairs, clocks, amulets and other items dating from the early 1800s.

Can you bargain? Of course you can! You must bargain! Since the market is not a tourist magnet, the vendors will be interested to see you, so try for at least 20-40 percent off. You won’t get it, but you’ll receive some discount at least.

I liked the old watch section. Wearing an antique watch really makes a man, you know. Nothing bespeaks flashiness and nouveau-riche vulgarity as much as that impossible Rolex you insist on wearing. Unless, of course, like mine, you bought it for 400 baht in Silom Road. That’s fine, shows an acute sense of getting value for money.

Other things on offer? Try brassware, imitation antiques, Chinese porcelain, car parts, Chinese gongs, old coffee grinders, what are you waiting for?

Whatever you do don’t take your carbon-dating equipment with you. You’ll only be disappointed. Remember the truth is only the truth when you find out it is the truth.

Where is Thieves’ Market, known in Thai as Nakhon Kasem?

It’s on Charoen Krung Road off Chakkrawat and Chrakkraphet Roads and not far from Wat Po.

Nearby there is an Indian market called Pahurat, Indian cloth by the yard and very inexpensive.

So if you feel like a curry too, and buying some brightly-coloured cloth for a sari or disco shirt….

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