Wake up at the crack of dawn, visit the local fresh market to restock the supplies, collect the pushcart from where ever it was parked overnight, drag the cart through the awakening streets of Bangkok to the allocated rented patch on the pavement or just to a preferred area of the city. This is a typical morning ritual for most Bangkok street food vendors and the working day has only just began…
Working many hours each day, for up to six days a week, street food vendors push and pull their small carts around the Bangkok streets, sometimes covering large distances. Their mobile places of work are simple but very functional where every item and ingredient has its place that is within easy reach of both hands.
It appears to be a simple life and although it can be physically demanding with long hours mostly spent standing and walking, it is a choice for a new life that millions of Thais make. We often wonder whether these street food vendors are really happy with their choice of life in Bangkok, so let’s see if we can find out…
“We met this happy and easy going man cooking and selling noodles in the late morning on a pavement alongside a busy main road.”
Peter and Ar – tour guides at Follow Me Bangkok Bicycle Tours
“We always come to this stall that is just behind our Clubhouse to buy fresh fruits for our guests after they return from their Bangkok tour.”
Ar – tour guide at Follow Me Bangkok Bicycle Tours
It is interesting to point out that street vendors of all types, who provide a convenient service for their customers, almost like the good old days when delivery men would roam the streets of most neighbourhoods selling everyday products, are actually considered as lower class.
Who would make the choice to spend hours under the burning sun? In Bangkok’s class-tiered society, most local residents avoid as much as possible any exposure to the sun, and they would rather spend small fortunes on skin whitening products!
As we have discovered most of the street food vendors in Bangkok have moved from the rural areas in the northern and central provinces of Thailand, typically areas populated by poorly paid farmers who spend many hours each day working under the elements. Settling in Bangkok in search of better employment many of these street vendors could be classed as successful businessmen who now run their own small companies.
So whether Bangkok street food vendors are truly happy or not is debatable, but it is clear that most of the individuals that we have spoken to claim to be very content with their life’s. This appears to be for two main reasons, firstly their choice has turned out to be the perfect way to support themselves and their families, and secondly the fact that they are their own bosses certainly appeals to the Thai sense of freedom and flexibility.