Bangkok Street Vendors Getting the Boot?
Captured by Cait H
A few years back I went to Thailand with girlfriends from college – none of whom had ever traveled to Southeast Asia, myself included (yikes). I agreed to go on a whim – someone had the bright idea of booking a boat for The Yacht Week’s first Thailand route and I couldn’t resist. I mean, when you’re pitched the idea of “a week spent sailing through the Andaman Sea, on a yacht with old and new friends from around the world” you say yes. I expected the experience to be surreal – a week living like the one percent, no responsibilities, unlimited sunshine, partying under the stars, breathtaking views, etc. All of which was the reality. What I didn’t expect, though, was the profound impact this trip would have on me for years to come. Overwhelmed was my immediate reaction to Bangkok – we had decided to spend some time there before setting sail in Phuket. The city was celebrating the King’s birthday — think the 4th of July, Christmas and Thanksgiving all rolled into one — and I immediately realized that I had embarked on a trip that was so much more than a party on a boat.
In those first days I asked too many questions, tried new dishes, bargained with a plethora of strangers and turned down more unmarked roads than ever before in my life. While shuffling through the overly-crowded streets was a slow process, I couldn’t take it all in fast enough. Everywhere you looked vendors lined the streets, everyone trying to sell you something – small Buddha figurines, fabrics, food. Which brings me to why I’m reminiscing on this trip. THE FOOD VENDORS. I can’t lie – I was hesitant at first. Even after all these years in Boston the idea meat from a cart makes my stomach turn– but we were in Bangkok and I thought “when in Rome!” Once we started trying things, we couldn’t stop – types of ice cream I couldn’t even begin to describe, to fried bug buffets and the greatest Pad Thai I’ve ever had in my life – and I began to realize that these people, their businesses, were the soul of this city.
Just recently news broke that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration was planning to ban street vendors in an effort to improve safety and cleanliness. Since then, the city has stated that the information was a bit of an overstatement, thankfully, but the story is still unfolding. I hope, for the sake of every traveler who hasn’t made their way to Bangkok yet, that this doesn’t come to fruition. It was this trip, these streets and those people, that led to my infatuation with traveling. For that, I will be forever grateful.
If you find yourself in Bangkok – I encourage you to find the man photographed. Your welcome in advance.
Posted by Cait