Papaya is a rich man’s treasure box: a 3-storey maze of a warehouse filled with antiques and vintage items, and with only a small path to wind through.
On our visit we found the fifty something owner Supoj Siripornlertkul, or “P’ Tong”, smoking while his wife was organising things in the warehouse. Papaya has been here for only six years, he explained, but items have been accumulating for more than twenty. So big is their collection that they also set up Tuba, a restaurant bar in Ekamai with a similar retro sprawl. “I started collecting vintage and antiques when I was in high school. I don’t know why I did it, but I like it,” he sort of explains. “Papaya is same, same like Apple Computers,” he adds with a laugh and a smirk, “we are both fruits that have grown over time and are now very popular.”
Items range from old transistor radios, television sets, chairs, sofa, clock to beverage signs, live-sized superheroes, and even Star Wars’ Jar Jar Binks… you name it. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, don’t go looking for a map or helpful staff member, just keep looking. Even though items are not sorted by type, an organised chaos does prevail and chances are, if it’s here, you’ll find it, eventually.
Bumped into something you’re dying to take home with you? The best way to find out the price is to capture the picture with your mobile, trudge back to the front office and show it to the shopkeeper. Prices aren’t expensive, but they’re not super cheap either. On a par with Suan Rot Fai, the retro railway night market, we’d say.
The most expensive item we came across is a white fiber boomerang desk for a cool B1.5m. The price tags for the life-size models of Batman, Captain America and the Green Lantern among other superheroes are pretty eye-watering, too – around B70,000-80,000. As for the ones of Marlon Brando and James Dean located by the bar counter on the first floor, both of these come in at B250,000 each – if you catch “P’ Tong” on a good day and can convince him to sell you them that is.
Therein lies the rub: over the years, “P’ Tong” has grown attached to much of his stock. So much so, in fact, that he refuses to sell whole swathes of it. What’s the point of that you may reasonably ask? The short answer is that Papaya does very nicely just be renting out much of its stock, usually for around 30% of its value and for a period that has to be negotiated on a deal-by-deal basis. In fact, its best customers are not your average joe but production designers from TV and film production companies and magazine fashion shoots, who come here to hire props to bring their sets to life with. That said, everyone’s welcome.
Travel tip: We recommend catching the subway to MRT Ladprao then taking a cab to Ladprao Soi 55/2.
Ladprao Soi 55/2, Ladprao Road | 02-539-8220 | www.design-athome.com | 9am-7pm