While Karen and I are feeling very pampered and rested (read: lazy), as guests of friends on the southern Thai island of Koh Lanta, I’ll zip back to Bangkok for one more post from the country’s capitol city.
Come on, you knew this post title was coming, right?!
Night markets are a fun tradition in Thailand and much of South-East Asia. Streets are blocked off, and stalls selling everything under the moon are set up for a unique, slightly cooler, shopping experience.
Arguably, one of the biggest and best in Bangkok is the Rot Fai Train Market, only about 10 km from where we were house sitting. We aren’t great late night gals, at the best of times, but this sounded too good to pass up.
Our hosts had introduced us to Grab, and this ride hailing app (similar to Uber) made getting around very easy. Of course, we’ve heard of these apps before, but living where we do, we’ve had no opportunity to try them out (we don’t have traffic signals in our village, let alone something as fancy as taxis!).
By plugging in our pick-up and drop-off locations, we were able to communicate clearly without worrying about the language barrier. We even had a Thai version of the house address that we were able to plug in to the “notes to driver” section (I’ve plugged in another address for demonstration purposes).
We were able to request a taxi or a personally owned car. For each ride request, we were given an estimated time of arrival and a price range. Once we accepted a driver, we could track their arrival.
Of course, these apps have been around for ages, but for us, this is one new addition to our arsenal of travel tools. If you’re a luddite like us, go ahead and jump into the previous decade, & give this mode of transportation a try. It’s actually easier to use than we thought.
For our friend, Lesley, this is where we cue the music: One Night in Bangkok
Not unlike markets we’ve visited in Central America and Spain, Rot Fai had stalls selling everything from clothes & shoes to electronics to antiques. There was even a smattering of souvenirs thrown in for the few shoppers who weren’t Thai.
What makes Rot Fai stand out from other markets is it’s size. It is enormous! I don’t know how many city blocks it covers. There were more stalls than we could possibly have visited in an evening. We cruised many, many aisles, even though we weren’t looking for anything to cram into our carry-on luggage. Then, we got down to business.
We were after the food.
In comparison to our failed attempt to find street food in Chinatown, at Rot Fai everything looked very clean, some labels were in English (thank you!), and we could identify a great deal of what was on offer. We felt a lot more comfortable sampling the tasty-looking morsels here, and made a meal of wandering from stall to stall for little bites.
Some of the stalls, however, did not inspire us to stretch our gastronomic boundaries.
We haven’t, yet, knowingly eaten worms, grubs, crickets, or any other such exotic treats.
Moving right along; we found other stalls offering tidbits more to our liking.
This skewer of tiny hard-boiled eggs (quail?) with the assortment of mystery toppings was too pretty to pass up. Thank goodness for the accompanying soy sauce; sadly, the egg treats were prettier than they were tasty.
On to these meaty strips of grilled salmon skin. As with most treats served at the stalls, these came with soy sauce and a spicy chilli sauce. Their texture was a little squidgie, but I could get used to them.
This poor grill master demonstrated the Thai skill of effectively communicating with farangs, using only a combination of facial expressions and waving arms. I understood, very clearly, that his was an extremely hot job. Several hours of grilling at 40C, anyone?
I suppose our experience of visiting the night market food stalls could be compared to doing a bit of a tapas tour in Spain; moving from stall to stall, picking out a little bite (and sometimes a drink), not always entirely certain of what we were eating.
Sharing a Thai beer and a bowl of assorted dumplings (pork, seaweed, and something else; we really weren’t sure) was a very tasty end to a fun evening out.