One of the most enjoyable things to do in Khao Lak is to wander through its markets and fairs. Over the last few days the Bang Niang Fair has appeared and provided the inhabitants of the region, as well as tourists and visitors, with a number of enjoyable activities to indulge in. The Fair is not as large as those that appear in the major cities of Thailand, but it nevertheless has a certain charm that is often found among smaller events. The Bang Niang Fair comes to town for a few weeks three or four times each year. It seems to arise magically out of the grounds of the large vacant lot on the main street of Bang Niang, just a few hundred meters south of the Bang Niang Market. It is the rainy season at the moment, but fortunately the gods of Khao Lak weather have blessed us with an unusually fine day. Indeed, there was no rain at all today, which bodes well for a good attendance later on in the evening.
Several food stalls lining the footpath next to the road have been set-up. All types of Thai food are available for consumption; for a Westerner like me, however, it’s not easy to describe what some of the food actually is. Nevertheless, I do have a penchant for the fried chicken that comes with a large dollop of saffron rice and a little bucket of sweet sauce that is just spicy enough to tantalize the palette, but without burning your insides out! This particular dish is made in the traditional Halal style of the Muslim cuisine. I indulge in it several times a week while the Fair is on, partly so I do not have to cook, but also because at 50 baht ($1.50) the cost is probably less than if I bought the ingredients myself at a market. In any case, I find it delicious, and will take it home with me after I have wandered through the rest of the Fair.
A labyrinth of undercover stores has been set-up in the rear of the food stalls. These shops sell all-manner of items, such as kitchenware, electronic equipment, smartphones, hardware items, clothes and shoes, sunglasses, and even “Bose Soundlink Mini” portable speakers for 500 baht ($15) each. Given the Bose Soundlink Mini costs somewhere in the order of $180 on Amazon, I suspect this particular item is not the Real McCoy!? Anyway, later on I intend to purchase some kitchen and laundry items such as clothes pegs and hangers, as well as authentic rubber gloves for washing dishes and scrubbing the floors of my home. The Rolling Stones must have been referring to Khao Lak shopping when they said “You can’t always get what you want.”
Although most of the things to do at the Bang Niang Fair are oriented towards adults, kids have not been completely ignored. At the southern-most end of the Fair, a miniature railway and a large overblown plastic and rubber slide have been set-up. Unfortunately, at my age and declining bodily parts, I don’t have the courage to try the slide, nor will I attempt to squeeze into one of the railway carriages. However, I will indulge in a chocolate-covered soft-serve ice-cream from the ice-cream van that has been set-up!