They are a very resourceful nation. Any small space of sidewalk can be turned into a stall or restaurant, complete with small tables and absolutely minute chairs. Some of the food we have passed by really smelled nice, although neither of us were able to identify any shapes, and as a result I now will never know (thank you!) what it tasted like. They have a culture of eating out … as in outside, in the street, on the sidewalk, we even saw an evening “restaurant” in front of an ATM. The format is always the same. A strange trolley contraption, with a gas burner on the one side, a wall on the other side (with the fare on offer and prices (very cheap)). Some very economically sized tables and chairs and scattered randomly buckets filled with (what was once) water, with unidentifiable objects floating in it. The foodstuff was always close to the trolley, so I am only assuming these buckets were used for washing your hands/cutlery? If only I had the World Health Organisation on speed dial. But the smell changes throughout the night. What started off as a very aromatic frying grilling smell, turns to a sweet gag inducing pungent linger, as they pour those questionable liquids down the many drains along the pavements. Bangkok is relatively flat, so you can just imagine when I say “lingering”. When they are sold out for the night and all the patrons left, they neatly pack up their show and push their trolleys and stuff down the street and away out of sight. The only evidence that there was some activity is the bags of rubbish neatly stacked against the nearest tree/pole. There are no rubbish bins (not even in the fanciest of shopping centres) because of past unrest and bombs being hidden in them. Somewhere during the early hours of the morning the streets are cleaned and rubbish removed.
We only saw proper restaurants – as we know them – in shopping centres. None which had a smoking section. There is a small grocery store on the ground floor, with our hotel on top, via a baby escalator ride. After we checked in – knowing the rooms were all non-smoking – I went down to reception to enquiry as to where I can smoke. “On first floor”, the receptionist said, pointing to the escalator. Turns out first floor = ground floor = street level = gagging sweet fowl off smell. Me and Peter (Stuyvesant) didn’t spent much time together.
3 January was an extra New Year’s Day (public holiday) and the businesses and beggars were open and active again on the 4th. Guess they too took the day off.
Very excited to notice on all our hotel reservation confirmations that our airport transfer will be done with a limo. I was thinking paparazzi and maybe I should shave too. Turns out to be a bloody normal sedan, just slightly bigger and with leather seats. Toyota Camry or similar.
Shop assistants have 3 favourite past times. Fiddling with their hair, fiddling with their make-up or eating – regardless of the time of day.
If you ever intend to travel to Bangkok, you ought to spend some time at MBK and especially their 5th floor Food Court. The concept is much like the New York Deli in Sea Point use to be. You get a card as you enter. There are loads of different vendors / styles / flavours, you order and they swipe your card to register your order. Only when you leave, do you pay for your consumption. Good variety. Scrumptious food. Very reasonably priced.
Continue reading Thailand – part 5 (of 9).