So on Saturday morning, after my customary fruit and muesli slathered in yogurt, I headed up to cross the canal and wait at a bus stop. I wanted to go to Chatuchak Market to get some zebra T-shirts.
I'd tried to do this on my last trip to Bangkok, but that had been during the floods, so the T-shirt stall had been shut.
Plus, I wanted a ceramic zebra. I got smart this time though. I downloaded a photo of one so I could ask for help even without being able to speak Thai.
The bus took me and about 20 other tourists to the market, but I jumped off early so that I didn't have to walk all the way back to the T-shirt stall, which is right above the Kamphaengphet metro.
The T-shirt stall was open! I bought three zebra T-shirts, and then stumbled over a nice skirt place and a handbag place.
I stopped for an iced coffee and then headed over to the part of the market where you can buy little ceramic animals. I mean really little, the size of your thumb, not the knee-high size I was looking for.
"Do you know where I can get this?" I'd show the ceramic zebra photo on my phone. Everyone I asked laughed and shook their heads. No.
Finally, a father and son running a ceramics shop took an interest in my plight. The son called someone on his phone and put me on the phone too.
"Uh, hello. I'm looking for...a zebra. A ceramic zebra."
"Yes. I have."
"Great! Where is your shop?"
"Where do you live?"
"I'm at Chatuchak."
The woman then tried very hard to explain to me how to get to her shop. I hung up and asked the son to draw me a map. He made a valiant effort, though it didn't seem to make sense to me. Looking at it now, I think the market he marked as across the street must be the food market, and the zebra shop must be in the Seven Days Market, which I'd tried repeatedly to find and either been in or missed.
I tried hard to follow the map, but in the end, I was just lucky to find a shop that sold ceramic zebras.
And then I started thinking about the little spirit house on display. Could I get a spirit house out past Customs? Could I make a little shrine in my apartment and give offerings to it for luck and thanks?
I decided to think about it. I went to the post office across the street—which was open until 1 on Saturdays—and sent home my zebras and new clothes. Then I walked back and bought the spirit house.
I hoped it wouldn't break in my luggage, and that no one would question me.
Both fronts were a gamble.