There have been times during this adventure of ours that the timing has felt just right. I had this feeling again this past week as Zoë and I met a few expat ladies and their children at Chalong Wat in Chalong, Phuket.
We have not made it to any Wats (temples) since arriving in Thailand this time around. Chad and I visited many, many, many (did I say many?) wats on our last go round here years ago. We haven’t felt the need to check any out this time. But, when the lovely ladies that I met through the Thailand expat women’s forum, ChickyNet.com, told me they were meeting there, I jumped at the opportunity to hang out with other ladies and to let Z play to her heart’s content.
I didn’t realize until I arrived at the Wat (about a 20 minute taxi ride from Karon beach where we were staying) that the yearly Chinese New Year Fair was going on. The wat (which is rather small, but beautiful) was surrounded by a huge afternoon/night market and towards the very back-end of it, there was a carnival area for the kids.
Let me start by describing the market… There were a plethora of food stalls, I always think about the food first, I am just
massively a little obsessed with Thai street food. It was a good thing I wasn’t hungry, all the food smelled delicious and was all inexpensive, I would have left needing a new wardrobe. Which would have been alright, I guess, because there were also a ton of clothing stalls where I did not see anything priced at over 100 baht ($3.33 US. There were also stalls selling bed linens, curtains, accessories, make-up, and everything else you could possibly want. Well everything except souvenirs. Which made me love this market even more. This was a truly locals market, in fact I saw very few foreigners besides us. It is sad to say, but I have not felt like I have had a true locals market experience more than 2 or 3 times since we have been in Thailand. The touristy ones are taking over and the more Thai ones are harder to find (at least for me at this point).
Okay, so off my soapbox about the tourist night markets. What I was trying to say, not so eloquently, is that I was ecstatic about the market. Zoë was not so excited about it, except for the bubble milk tea that I got for us to “share”.
When we made it to the back part of the fair, it was Z’s turn to jump and clap for joy (yes, food and shopping do make me clap and jump for joy… especially the food part). We walked up to an area that housed a huge caged trampoline, a toddler train roller coaster, a merry-go-round, and a colossal bounce house complete with slides that were high enough to where I would not have the courage to go down them.
We started playing on the trampoline, which was quite bouncy and surrounded by a rickety rope fence below and netting starting about 3 feet from the bottom (seemed a bit backwards to me, but I just made sure Z knew to stay away from the fence, because she could fall right through to the ground 5 or so feet below). It was 20 baht for as long as she wanted to jump around.
Then we all rode the merry-go-round that looked like it was made out of fiberglass, lead, and rusty steel. Ok I may exaggerate a little, I think the only lead on there was probably in the paint. Regardless, for just 20 baht, Zoë was able to ride on one of the swans (with me right next to her) for as long as she wanted. No seriously, we had to maneuver our way off the merry-go-round while it was still moving. Not only did we get a ride, but it was an exciting adventure as well. You really do get more for your money here in Thailand.
The afternoon ended with the kids playing on the bounce house for the remainder of the time (another 20 baht). I haven’t seen Z so happy in a long time. We said good-bye to her new friends and made plans to return to play some more in a few days.
The timing of our trip was just right for us to go to the Chinese New Year Fair at Wat Chalong and we didn’t even know about it ahead of time. I am thankful for this and for the chance for Z to get to play happily with new friends.
So if you are ever in Phuket during Chinese New Year, make sure to check out the Chinese New Year Fair at Chalong Fair.
What fun things were going on in your area to celebrate Chinese New Year? Leave a comment and let me know!