Bangkok must have among the best and tastiest street food cultures in the world, and Chinatown is arguably the best place to experience it.
Every night as the ordinary traders shut up shop, Yaowarat road and the alleyways that run off it are slowly taken over by stalls, carts and temporary restaurants. There are noodles and dumplings, whole crabs and half ducks, pomegranates oozing from their cases and neat pyramids of mandarins. The stalls slowly take over the street so even though the markets sit on a main thoroughfare, carts slowly take over outside lanes and drivers slow down to miss the hundreds of people crossing the road at the smell of fresh-cooked noodles.
We decided to enjoy a night out in Bangkok, a big thing for us early birds, starting with dinner at as many street food joints we could visit in main street Chinatown, before a visit to the flower markets and perhaps a bar or two afterwards.
We walked up and down the main strip before picking our first joint, then again our second and third, finally enjoying our last bite back at our first stop, where the staff had been friendly and the food crisp and tasty. We had salt and pepper calamari, two different types of pork noodles, some dumplings, chicken with mixed vegetables and finally, a second serve of the perfect calamari.
There was a little more peace and a little more seating room at the stalls just down alleyways. Our one attempt to investigate a stall off the main strip however, turned into a 15minute walk through roadworks and the grungier back streets of Chinatown. Perhaps don’t try that unless you’re really certain as to where you’re going.
Our final stop in Chinatown was at Cotton Bar at Shanghai Mansion Hotel. One of many ‘1920’s’ themed cocktail bars in the city, the bar was usually housed in luxurious surrounds inside the hotel. Due to renovations however it had been temporarily moved down outside the ground floor coffee house. The move may have diminished the exclusivity and cosiness of a darkened bar but the street-side entertainment was ample compensation. Listening to a country/blues band, sipping on pink cocktails was an indulgent way to end our tour of Chinatown.
To round off the night, I insisted on taking Husband to the Bangkok flower markets. How could any visit to this city be complete without a visit to these glorious markets? Not in a hall as I had originally expected, the markets again stretch out along a min road in the city and buyers squeeze through stalls on the pavement, past glorious blooms and luscious foliage. I took almost no good photos, partly for camera quality and also because I am always reticent to inconvenience other people for the sake of my photo. So I couldn’t stop still and block the people behind me. Nevertheless, it would take greater skills than mine to properly capture the business and abundance of the markets.