Authorities have tried to get rid of the wonderful stalls blocking pavements around the Thai capital, citing safety concerns. It doesn’t seem to have had much effect, but just in case, here are three you can make yourself
Stepping gingerly into a torrent of traffic to avoid a red-hot grill of pork skewers, I reflect that there’s not a lot of evidence of the much-trumpeted crackdown on Bangkok street food sellers in evidence in the smart district of Sukhumvit. The international media went to town on the story earlier this year, claiming the city would be “unrecognisable” without its famous fragrant stalls, blaming “gentrification” and calling it “a banal assault on way of life”. Months later, however, it’s still hard to make your way along the cracked pavements of the stall-filled sidestreets without risk to life and limb.
The city authorities cited “order and hygiene” concerns, claiming it was part of a campaign to “return the footpath to pedestrians”, but were quick to state, in response to the outcry, that there would be “no outright ban”. Instead, they said, regulations were just being enforced. Yet reports persisted of evictions, and many people I spoke to in the city seemed to have a story of a favourite stall that had disappeared overnight. James Hacon, the strategy director for Thai Leisure Group, a UK restaurant company set up by a former Bangkok street food vendor, tells me he has noticed a decline in the number of stalls even in the short time he has been a regular visitor: “There are only two night markets left now … there used to be loads.”