Snakes, Lizards, and Mammals You’ve Never Heard Of
Thailand may seem mild when it comes to weird food, but it’s all lurking just beneath the surface. Your local fresh market probably has ant eggs and frogs, but out in the countryside on major highways there exists the fantastic institution of the jungle market (ตลาดป่า, dtalaat bpaa) — stall after stall of wild plants, mushrooms, and animals collected from the forest. The ethics of such places are questionable – it’s likely that protected species are available and it’s often impossible to know exactly what you’re buying. We took pains to be as environmentally conscious as possible, but in the end it’s a thing, it’s there and that makes it worth checking out.
Our first stop was Tung Kwian market (กาดทุ่งเกวียน, gaad tung gwian, coordinates 18.3274, 99.2807), on the left side of the 11 just after crossing from Lamphun province into Lampang. Apparently Tung Kwian used to be completely insane back in the day, but it’s been elevated to the status of tourist attraction and is now watered down to nothing more than wild boar and fried bugs. Strangely enough the cafeteria only sells standard Thai street fare, but you’d think they’d try using something interesting from the jungle
Our next stop proved more fruitful. There’s no obvious name, but it’s a smaller jungle market on the same road a couple dozen kilometers away (in Lamphun, on the right if you’re coming from Chiang Mai. Coordinates 18.46198, 99.17479). Frogs, deer and bamboo rats are all on display, and in the coolers you’ll find a litany of snakes, weasels and soft shell turtles. Supposedly pythons, civets and binturong are all available if you order in advance. Even better, out in the front you’ll find wild quails roasted on a stick and ready for eating.
Have you found any other jungle markets with interesting items on offer? Let us know at [email protected] — we’ll keep exploring and updating this list as well.