Getting lost on the busy streets of Bangkok is a relatively fun past time. Once you secure your belongings and have your usual street smarts about, weaving in and out of the alleys and streets of this enormously populated city is a great way to explore. On impulse, I find myself joining the crowds on the streets outside Siriraj hospital at Wang Lang markets. I had intended to go for a walk and find a place that could do foot massages but instead my nose twitches as I smell something delicious and I follow it towards a stand.
A women in purple Thai silk smiles and her husband tends the stand. They're selling all sort of sticky rice goodies and barbecued Thai bananas in syrup. I point at the banana leaf wrapped items and buy two for 20THB or $0.70AUD. They have a filling of sweet taro encased in sticky white rice.
A few more doors down I stop when I see a man ordering some chicken rice. The vendor slices the hanging chicken with a cleaver and the juice from the chicken runs down onto her chopping board. It looks fresh and the stand busy-street food is on the whole quite safe. One of the best rules of thumb is to patronise stalls with a lot of customers as the turnover will be high and food doesn't languish in the sun.
I take a seat and they bring the plate to me quickly. There is a small bowl of hot Thai chillies and chopped ginger on the side and I add the flavoursome sauce and the condiments on top and dig in. The chicken rice is wonderful and all intentions I had of just trying one piece and a mouthful of rice are dashed. I unwrap the other banana leaf package and eat that and then get up to pay for the chicken rice. It's 35THB or $1.19AUD.
I delve further into the market dodging dark puddles from the rain and watch as steam rises from the vents. There's the occasional grateful waft of air conditioned air from a clothing shop. But more food is what I seek - my hunger suppressed only 15 minutes ago by gruesome images at the nearby medical museum is now completely awoken. These markets are known for Southern Thai food. This is apparently from when the nearby train station served the southern areas of Thailand. Red curry stink beans and spicy curries dominate. But since I've already eaten I'm looking for snacks.
My eyes light up when I see lychees still on the branches and the pineapple on sticks. The last time I was in Thailand Mr NQN and I ate fruit greedily as if we had never eaten it before. I'm one that often complains that fruit isn't sweet enough but not so for Thai fruit. The lychees are enormous easily double the size of those that we get in Australia. They're juicy and sweet and I buy half a kilo of them for 130THB or $4.42AUD.
The same stand sells little rice balls that glisten like jewellery and I enquire about the price-they're 25THB or $0.85AUD for half a dozen sticky rice balls and four large dumplings filled with a delicious savoury sweet fish and peanut based filling. They stick a bamboo skewer in a lettuce leaf in the bag.
I walk past more stores wishing that I had more stomach space to try more food. The pungent smell of fish in bamboo baskets arrests my olfactory senses while gleaming rings in gold sit in a pile waiting to be fished through. A hairdresser tends to her client's hair while opposite, a patient customer awaits the presence of a palm reader. Things make me giggle including these air filled bags of sausages.
A sushi stand does a roaring trade as eager customers pick out their sushi pieces (I guess they didn't just visit the parasitology display at the museum with its dedicated stand on sushi ;)). Pink blushing apples are displayed beautifully-fruit is incredibly abundant here and there are snakefruit, durian, longans and pomelos.
There are also bags full of the makings for dinner-this is convenience food Thai style. Tuk tuks speed by crammed in with passengers and after walking for a while I realise that I must head back to the hotel to meet up with my group so this is my last moment of being alone. I hail a taxi, a bright pink one again no less and we do the slow crawl back to the hotel.
Rush hour in Bangkok is not to be trifled with and we find ourselves standing still in the same spot without moving for twenty minutes. A trip that would take 20 minutes takes one hour and 20 minutes and I watch as a young father takes his curious son on on his motorbike and stops at a few street stalls where his son chooses something to eat from each. Even though they spend time at each stall, the taxi doesn't pass them.
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever just wandered the streets of a city? And do you enjoy street food or do you prefer to eat from restaurants or cafes?
NQN travelled to Bangkok and a guest of Qantas and the Como Metropolitan Hotel. All experiences in this post were independently paid for.
2 Prannok Rd, Siriraj, Bangkok Noi, Bangkok 10700, Thailand