Part Duo: From Bangkok, with love

Part Duo: From Bangkok, with love

(Our accommodation and flight to Bangkok were kindly sponsored by Bangkok2Tour as part of their new Halal tour program. All views expressed, however, are our own.)

CHAPTER THREE

In a perfect world, the morning of Day Two of our Bangkok trip would start at 0730 - up and early, ready to catch that first proverbial worm of the day. But in reality, we left the hotel at 0900, ready to seize the day and welcome the wonders that today would bring.

With a wonderful night of sleep behind us (the mattress was firm, just the way I like it) and in desperate need for coffee, we hopped on our usual mode of transport with Tiger leading the way. After yesterday’s wonderful market experience, we were hyped for what today might bring. But first, coffee.

 

We found ourselves at a familiar location: Asiatique. I remember coming here during my last trip only because we were on a river boat from the temples and Asiatique was a convenient stop along the way. I would describe Asiatique as a glorified Chatuchak Market that was created solely as a place for the first-time tourist to drop by and gawk at this wonderful and colourful market by the river. Of course, all notions of authenticity vanishes when the first few restaurants you see upon alighting from the boat are the types where you have to ‘wait to be seated’. The only similarity between Asiatique and Chatuchak was in its concept that they both have shops and places to eat. That’s where the similarity ends because everything else from ambience to pricing could not be more different.

The van took us to the streets surrounding Bang Uthit Mosque. With a predominantly Muslim population, the area is dotted with Halal street food that stretches to just beyond Suan Luang river. Coffee craving satiated (from a local with a teeny tiny pushcart selling just coffee, less sugar please), we took a slow walk up half wondering what we were doing here, half soaking in the rather quaint locale of this neighbourhood.

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We took a brief hiatus when we saw a lady wearing a hijab selling a familiar looking dish we call Prata. She deftly worked the dough into a small pancake, liberally dousing it with oil, and then butter, and then oil again till the dough crisps up to attention. Then she cracks an egg (Prata Telur alert), flips it over, cuts it up and places it in a makeshift paper receptacle for easy of carry. She spoke to Tiger and asked if we would like sugar and condensed milk drizzled on our breakfast.

Yes. Yes, we do.

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Further up the street, was a lady and her husband in an alleyway selling barbecued meats almost like a traditional kebab. Cooking off her cart, she has arranged her work station with breakfast staples of the locals, consisting of sticky rice, a pot of caramelised beef strands, and a manual weighing scale because she’s an honest businesswoman, okay?

We were about to head off, meats in hand, when suddenly she nonchalantly remarked to Tiger to bring us in further down the alley. Further? But this alley ends right there, about 6 metres away. Where is this ‘further’ she was referring to, and most importantly, how does anyone remark nonchalant in Thai? We were duly perplexed, but intrigued enough to make our way down the alley, dutifully trusting the lady who sells meat in an alleyway under a huge umbrella canopy.

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With a slight left turn, we walked on and, like discovering Diagon Alley through an open door, were greeted by a very bustling market. People were weaving in and out of stalls, avoiding the occasional motorcycle zooming past or the group of four tourists clearly in their way, gawking at this scene that’s unfolding right before their eyes. It was sensorial overload at its finest.

The theme for this trip seems to be luck. Luck in that it is always on our side. First, a clarification: no one here speaks English. Second, another clarification: there are no tourists. I assume most tourists stop at the umbrella canopy, but since we clearly had a Thai ambassador, the lady that sells meat probably saw us worthy of this experience (plus, we were gushing over the food she sold and bought almost a stick of everything she had). Thirdly, had we been here the next week instead, this market would not have existed because this market happens only once a month, on the first weekend of the month and today was the first market of the year. See. Luck.

This Halal market is organised by the village organizing community and supported by the residents and mosque in the area. Both sides of the five foot way is occupied by tables and all manners of cooking contraptions, gas stoves, tables and chairs (for the lucky few with a higher budget) and a huge umbrella. Boy, were there lots of huge umbrellas; to be expected given the scorching heat.

The culinary options here runs infinitely aplenty. The authenticity of this market is proven when Tiger explained to us that the salad being made by the cook was a salad he had when he was a young child and that he has not seen it being prepared at any market until today. There is a certain charm when you realise that these cooks were preparing food for sale that they make all the time at home, which is literally behind their stall, separated by a canal. It’s comforting to know that we are eating and enjoying the very definition of home-made food in a country where street food is banned in the major tourist areas of Bangkok. This was what everyone else is missing out on if they refused to take the road less travelled outside of the big malls of Bangkok.

Here, the cooks treat us like family, often obliging to a photo here, a close up video there, strange ‘Could we try to cook the oyster omelette, please?’ request or just our general gawking and amazement at effortless cooking learned over generations. Through a language we didn’t quite understand and a lot of gesticulating, we truly felt the warmth and earnesty that has been extended to us as we hopped from stall to stall along this one and a half kilometre stretch, trying everything our stomach could hold.

And maybe that is why we love street markets such as this. I remember going up to a stall and miming that I wanted a spoon. The lady looked into her utensil box, saw that it was empty and promptly shouted across to her husband in their house that was about five metres away who rushed out with a fist full of disposable forks and spoons. Perhaps that was what captured our heart. Above the authenticity of food, what we truly treasure most is a dining experience that comes from the heart. Having a well-seasoned Pad Thai cooked in front of our eyes is merely the cherry on top of a beautiful and well-made cake.


Bangkok2Tour will be launching their new Halal street food tour available now. As part of this new itinerary, Chef Firdauz Nasir will be your special chaperon for the trip.

Do take note, that due to the availability of the markets, especially the one written about above, one of the Halal street food tour will only be available on the first weekend of the month. Do head over to Bangkok2tour website or their Facebook page for more information.

PACKAGE ONE (for 1st weekend of each month)
Price: 4000 baht without guide/5000 baht with guide

0800: Hotel pick-up
0900: Pattanakarn Road Street Food
1200: Lunch at Company B
1400: Shopping/Massage
1800: Night Market
2000: End of Tour

PACKAGE TWO (daily)
Price: 3000 baht without guide/4000 baht with guide

0800: Hotel pick-up
0900: Ramkhamhaeng Road
1200: Lunch at Company B
1400: Shopping/Massage
1800: Night Market
2000: End of Tour

This is a sample of the itinerary with indicated prices (subject to change).

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Part Uno: From Bangkok, with love

Part Uno: From Bangkok, with love