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The walking street

January 15, 2011

At first glance, Chiang Mai is teaming with trash. That’s what one would surmise after walking through Thapae gate past huge over flowing trash bins. But these, I come to learn are mainly filled with trash from tourists.

There are no real trash bins lining “the walking street“–the name given to Radjdumnem Road which starts at Thapae gate and hosts nearly a hundred street vendors on Sunday nights.

All the locals know they can hand their garbage to the street vendors who will collect it and turn it over to garbage collectors at the end of the night. What’s more, many of the things for sale at this market are made from natural materials–cups made from bamboo, clay pots for holding water, sweet sticky rice desserts wrapped in banana leaves and fresh fruit you can eat off a stick. My friend Santi, who’s from Chiang Mai and is showing me around this week, ordered a “bowl” of meatballs; the bowl was made out of dried and pressed leaves.

Perhaps the most remarkable sight was the walking street the next day.  Not a single piece of trash in sight. If you hadn’t been out on the streets eating chicken satay and fresh durian the night before, you’d never have known there was an outdoor market that produced literally tons of trash. It had all seemed to disappear.

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