A Lunchtime in Bangkok

If you are waiting for glorious pictures of the temples of Bangkok don’t hold your breath please. I did the temple tour in 1989 . The temples haven’t changed but the numbers visiting certainly has. The main temple is now the 17th most visited site in the world. I won’t be adding to their numbers on this trip.

Instead I went off to see where the Thais have lunch around this area and found one place that seems to typify the rest. A barn of a place and packed to the gunnels from 11.30 a.m. until about 1.15 p.m. for the lunch break. Thais seem to spend a great deal of time eating yet are almost all stick thin which is somewhat depressing . It is chilli hot food with lots of soup based dishes and very little meat.

This place has food stalls around three sides of the corrugated roofed building . Here you order your food of choice or multi choice.

Food Stalls BKK

Then you go find somewhere to sit clutching your purchase as you look. Uniformed girls help out by moving people and chairs to accommodate the steady stream of eaters looking for somewhere and elderly wrinkled old guys ( ex wokers too old to stir fry ) clean the debris away and clean the tables. It is run like a military operation and given the numbers it needs to be.

Eating Area

Fancy something to drink ? Then you head off to a centre island where the drinks are dispensed

Drink Centre BKK

Finally having had your fill of food and swilled down your juice what else is there to do during lunch but some retail therapy. Well they have that covered too. at the other end of the vast hall are stalls selling mainly female stuff, make up, shoes ,clothes and baby clothes.

Clothes BKK

The stalls are for females because the vast majority of eaters are female. indeed as you walk the streets at lunchtime it is really noticeable that 80% of the people around you are 20 something girls all in office clothes. It is rather like Washington D.C. in the 1970s when  the government secretary jobs were female and women out numbered men about 5 to 1 at that time. The British Airways office was in a building that housed some of the World Bank and 90% were female doing jobs that computers do now. The BA office was on the third floor and a bachelor colleague at the time managed every week day to get a date from a girl in the elevator during the short 2 floor ride up. Sunday was his day off when he made another 6 day batch of a stew he called Boef a La Jardinaire to wow them with at dinner at his apartment. I guess the Thai males here are doing the same with Pad Thai in the freezer.

We are near the old red-light district of Patong where years ago there were hundreds of girly bars on the ground floor and live sex shows on the first floor. That has all changed and only about 20 now survive. There are however quite a few of the elderly  western guys still  wandering the streets like some kind of flotsam from another era . They are now sad people with hangdog looks and I guess the life they came for years ago has now passed them by. You meet them in bars around the area moaning about most things but determined never to go “home”.

The trade for men to find Thai girls for their holiday  these days is more internet based I would imagine but is obviously still alive and well. Lots of, to me, rather sad old fellows with stupidly young girls hanging on to their arms. The bigger business seems now to be the gay scene.

This trade in girls mainly from the poor north of the country is one aspect of Thailand that leaves a very sour taste in the mouth and in certain areas like the truly awful resort of Pattaya it is totally off putting.

Last night in our very luxurious but only £75 a night one bedroom apartment we ate fresh salad and cold meats washed down with a few bottles of Leo beer. Around the corner there is a Tops supermarket which seems a little like Whole Foods in the USA. All very fresh and no additives etc. Each of their locations has a large salad bar in the centre and you pick up your container and walk around filling it with salad goodies. Made a nice change for once from Thai food.

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