Yesterday was my birthday and I spent it doing the two things I love the most--shopping and eating!

My friend Lek and I started the day at the immense Pratunam market, the "garment district" of Bangkok. You can have practically anything made for astonishingly low prices. There is even a section Lek called "sequin street" where craftspeople whip together glamorous gowns to order. Wait until you see what I bought!

Later, it was on to Chatuchak, Bangkok's sprawling weekend market. We began with a mouthwatering lunch the most scrumptious fried chicken I have ever eaten along with a feast of other Thai treats that were new to me.

You can find virtually everything under the sun in Chatuchak, from saddles to snakes, and from violins to vases. We shopped for antiques, silk, mint-condition vinyl LPs and a lot of fun gifts for friends back home. My Christmas gift shopping is finished and I did not need to use a credit card once!

Before we left we stopped for sticky rice topped with coconut cream and the freshest, sweetest mangos that have ever excited my tongue. Who needs a boring chocolate birthday cake? The cake came later, actually, at a restaurant in a lovely old house near Silom Road. The food was terrific, the atmosphere was fun, and the gorgeous waiters surrounded our table to sing a birthday song.

I'm coming back here for my birthday every year from now on. Why don't you turn the TV off and join me? Don't work too hard!

photographs 2004 by Purple Dragon - all rights reserved