[ almost all photos in this post by YK ]
 just about every Thai provincial capital seems to stick to this default clock-tower-in-middle-of-roundabout-beside-municipal-market format:
& by default too there will be an unofficial songthaew terminus somewhere around e market. here e market sprawls an entire block to e left, & songthaews park somewhere further down e street past e white building. local markets are interesting places to explore, & they can tell you a lot about local lifestyle & cuisine =)
bucketful of crabs for sale in e wet section of e market:
doing e biologist thing:
there were stalls selling live fish & frogs & some animal species dried/chopped up beyond recognition, fruits, dried seafood, cooked food, bamboo rice (which we tried - nice!), fresh flowers, dried herbs, bark & roots of unknown plants, etc.
e dry section, with clothes, shoes, toiletries, basketware, household items, crockery & cutlery, altar offerings, wellington boots & gloves, etc:
in this section you can even find e whole range of e different types of knives & machetes used for cutting firewood, chopping tree trunks, splitting bamboo, slicing banana trunks (to make pig feed), chopping meat & bones, cutting vegetables & fruits, carving wood, etc....essential for many many aspects of hilltribe life. every Akha house we stepped into during last year's expedition had a whole set of about 5, with blades of different lengths, shapes & curvatures to suit their purpose. our host family kept their set on e wall directly behind e main door on e men's side of e house (traditional Akha houses are partitioned into e men's & women's halves). many a times e cat found itself facing them as it ate dinner on e floor nearby =P when going into e fields & forests (or even just trekking with e expedition team), both e men & women will carry a knife along in a woven bamboo cover with a string to sling it across e shoulder or tie it to e waist.
e section of Thanon Uttarakit outside e municipal market & Wat Mung Mueang is where villagers from e countryside come to spread their wares on e pavements, selling mainly vegetables & fruits.
Akha women unloading their produce at e corner of Thanon Trai Rat & Thanon Uttarakit (left) & setting up stalls (right):
at this corner is a shop that sells Akha handicrafts as well as e seeds, beads, silver ornaments, old silver coins, cowrie shells, buttons & other bits & pieces that Akha women buy to use in making their elaborate costumes & handicrafts. one can still check out Akha handicrafts at this shop (& also at e PDA hilltribe museum shop along Thanon Thanalai) when e night bazaar is closed during e day.
checkered headscarf, blue 'work jacket', heavy duty woven bamboo basket with headstrap, ability to carry enormous loads, shoulder bag, petrol containers recycled as water bottles - it isn't too hard to spot hardworking Akha women here:
onions, cabbages, potatoes, gingers, garlic cloves, water chestnuts, limes, chillies, groundnuts, yams, turnips, oranges, etc for sale:
Wat Mung Mueang (left) & whiskey boxes recycled as hats (right)....100 Pipers seems to be a popular brand here.
lunched at one of e ubiquitous noodle shops, e first of e many many kway2 teow2/ba4 mii3 muu2/neua2 sup2/haeng4 (flat rice flour noodles/thin yellow egg noodles pork/beef soup/dry) meals on this trip....one of e cheapest (max 25 baht/SGD 1, lowest price encountered was 10 baht) & safest (everything is boiled & ingredients are all familiar & predictable) options especially in rural areas, where it may be e only thing available.
back in Baan Bua Guesthouse, all packed up & ready to leave for Phu Chi Fah:
our spotlessly clean 300 baht/night double room with fan, hot water shower & bath towels provided. you can pay extra for use of e air con but who needs that in e cold season ;)
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