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Thailand’s Risky Market

Our first stop in Thailand was Bangkok. A maniacal city filled with buildings, protesters and funny smells.

But the most noticeable thing is the food. Food is EVERYWHERE. Streets and sidewalks are filled with vendors and gangs of scooter riding hungry people.  All of them buying, eating, selling or transporting food.

One of our first visits in Thailand was to the Risky Market in Bangkok, aptly named for the fact that a train runs straight through the market several times a day.  The vendors set up shop right on the rail lines and when those rails start vibrating they all grab their tables and pull them out of the way.

Thailand’s not what you’d call real strict when it comes to safety and codes and such.

Oddly enough, the train running through the market with vendors throwing whole plucked ducks up into the air isn’t the most noticeable thing about the market.  It’s how beautifully it’s all packaged and presented.

Raw fish, meat and poultry hanging in all its naked glory, flies roaming in and out.  One of our tour guides said Thai people have iron stomaches.  It’s no wonder.  They’ve been in bacterial training since birth.

Risky Marketh

Risky Marketg

Risky Marketb

Risky Marketc

Risky Marketf

Risky Marketd

Risky Markete

Risky Marketi

Risky Marketj

 
Drinks get served in bags with a straw, as you can see in the second to last picture. That one there is a cold tea. I got a hot tea that was called “Red Tea” that tasted spicy almost like a Chia tea. It had nothing added to it other than sweetened condensed milk and regular milk. It was delicious enough to make me consider skipping one of my 300 daily coffees in favour of it.

Speaking of 300 coffees, did you know that public restrooms in Thailand don’t have toilet paper? You have to bring your own. Which none of us knew.

No toilet paper, many teas, several coffees and bacteria floating around like dust in a shaft of light. Risky market indeed.

 

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37 Comments | Filed Under: Everything Else |

37 Responses to Thailand’s Risky Market

  1. Feral Turtle says:

    That’s a little scary. I wonder if Thai People come here and get the trots? Everybody is used to their own germs

  2. Marti says:

    Toilet paper? Bring your own? NO! That’s what the tour guide is supposed to do: Haul the tourist/guest TP. THEIR JOB. And don’t worry; the skin on your tongue and all those taste buds will grow back soon enough.

    The third to last picture… the woman in hot pink… what are those massive round red fruits, please? Did you try those?

    • alisa says:

      I’m pretty positive those are ordinary grapes!

    • Karen says:

      LOL. They’re grapes! Enormous grapes! ~ karen

    • Natika says:

      Why would the tour guide be in charge of TP? I’ve had guides in a few Asian countries now (Vietnam, India, Cambodia, Thailand) and they’ve never supplied me with TP. Water, yes, sometimes. TP, no.

      • Marti says:

        Because they like you! Okay… maybe not.

        Why does any tour guide do anything? BECAUSE THEY WANT A SIZABLE เงินรางวัล, AKA TIP. Gratuity. Bonus. Perk. Greased palm. Sure, they’re nice, but they’re hanging around with you for money… it’s their job. And the better they do it, the bigger tip they get.

        • Natika says:

          Well, that would be a good reason then! hmmm… I wonder why my guides supplied none then? I guess I looked like I wouldn’t tip well or I’d tip regardless…

  3. Marti says:

    So weird angle or amazing fertilizer or absurdly long growing season or gargantuan variety/not Karen’s front yard?

  4. Agnes says:

    Beautiful shots.

  5. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    But it’s all so colorful..and pretty…why do they set up on the tracks..surely there is a better location???

  6. Barbie says:

    ….yeah…those tracks kinda freak me out! And those grapes made my mouth water….I may be making a trip to the store at 11:30pm….gotta get me some grapes right now!

  7. mimiindublin says:

    How can anyone concentrate on food when those tracks could vibrate at any time?
    Wow! Talk about a culture shock! I thought the stuff in the bag with straw was some kind of soup, it looks as though it has little lumps in it.
    Funny how we’d get sick from (almost) breathing the air in that market, yet the locals eat the food, no problem. You have to wonder are we mad, with all this “health and safety” and anti-bacterial stuff!

  8. Kim says:

    Hadn’t heard of this. I was expecting something simpler since they have to to quickly relocate when the train rumbles by but everything is beautifully arranged just the same. I love the way the Thai present their food. Such attention to detail (if you don’t count flies). Local markets are amazing any time but this is particularly cool!

  9. Sally A. says:

    As my husband says, “If flys don’t even want it, I’m certainly not eating it.”

  10. KiwiKat says:

    When we did a cooking class in Hua Hin, we did the shopping for it in the local market…which was a bit confronting at times. The head chef though, showed us where/what we should be looking for – she said you never purchase meats from any of the vendors around the edge of the market – she said you always buy from the vendors on the interior of the market, as they are more sheltered and cooler, so there are less flies… luckily, I never got sick while we were there (and I ate at a number of different places that may have raised a few eyebrows) – although I tended to avoid anything too spicy and I wasn’t into crickets and bugs!

  11. Merrilee says:

    Yay! Have been waiting patiently for the food posts- knew you would not disappoint. I love markets! Nothing like it for local flavor. But the drink in a bag? Puzzling. Doesn’t seem like it’s less waste since it’s a plastic bag. Doesn’t seem handier since it would take all my energy to not spill it. Maybe storage- since the bags would pack flat. Anyway love it! Faves are those twopacks of fish and the husk wrapped surprise!

  12. Tigersmom says:

    So Thailand is where I should go to lose weight.

  13. Maureen says:

    I’d have to keep pudding in my Prada.

  14. KimC says:

    Such beautiful photos. I’ve never travelled outside of North America so your tales from Thailand are incredible to read. The girl in the last picture looks very happy! Love the one that shows the rails running through the market, just crazy. Like it isn’t enough work for them to set up the wares so artfully.

  15. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Thanks for sharing such great photos. A different world indeed.

  16. Ev says:

    Just watched Brandy’s video. People everywhere are so adaptive! At least we haven’t lost that, what with “civilization” and all! Glad you got to experience all this and thanks for sharing!

  17. Natika says:

    I absolutely love those little triangular packets wrapped in leaves! I used to order them all the time at T&T’s grocery store in Toronto where you could pick what you put inside them. I tried them in Thailand too. They had a variety of different things inside. The one I got had a piece of chicken, a piece of sausage, some water chestnuts, mushrooms, a bit of a glutinous sauce and, of course, sticky rice. It was pretty good!

    I think someone else in an earlier post mention about the lack of TP. It’s not just Thailand, but most of Asia (except Japan and probably Singapore and some other places I haven’t been). But you survived! And that’s what counts. ;)

    • Cred says:

      Nope, not Japan either. Some places do but it can still be dodgy. Just like many Asia countries, many places don’t have western toilets. Maybe if your guide had toilet paper he’d have let you try street food;)

      This market is crazy but the food looks amazing. We had drinks in a bag on a tour in Costa Rica. Our Spanish was pretty lousy and when I ordered “dos coca” and they handed me a bag of coke with a straw in it, I wondered what the hell I had actually said. We laughed our ass off as we tried to balance our little bag of liquid (that looked suspiciously like those old platex nurser liners) on our knee on the ride back to our hotel.

      • Natika says:

        I live in Japan and have for quite some time now. I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled nearly the entire country too (minus Hokkaido and Okinawa). Toilet paper is supplied in 95% of the public washrooms. Sometimes in parks there’s no toilet paper, but that’s often the case in Canada too. Remote areas have no one to re-stock the supply.

        Squat toilets on the other hand are everywhere!

        Do you recommend Costa Rica? I might have a chance to go there soon…

  18. Laura Bee says:

    Ooh what an experience! I love food pictures lol. I took some pretty good ones at the big Montreal market when I was there a few years ago.
    The two-fish baskets are great. Glad you made it back (relatively) unscathed.

  19. Gretchen Sexton says:

    I love your photos–they captured the ‘flavor’ of the market place so well. And I can see where you would really WANT to eat the street food. It all looks so interesting and unusual. Keep those stories coming!

    • Karen says:

      I know. It was very hard! And it was such a whirlwind I didn’t get the really incredible foods. Like fish that all had ribbons on their tails! So much I missed photos of. ~ karen!

  20. Cred says:

    Nope, not Japan either. Some places do but it can still be dodgy. Just like many Asia countries, many places don’t have western toilets. Maybe if your guide had toilet paper he’d have let you try street food;)

    This market is crazy but the food looks amazing. We had drinks in a bag on a tour in Costa Rica. Our Spanish was pretty lousy and when I ordered “dos coca” and they handed me a bag of coke with a straw in it, I wondered what the hell I had actually said. We laughed our ass off as we tried to balance our little bag of liquid (that looked suspiciously like those old platex nurser liners) on our knee on the ride back to our hotel.

  21. toekneetoni says:

    great pics. Welcome back! Glad you got to have a totally different experience. :)

  22. Natalie says:

    I don’t know if mangosteens are native to Thailand but that’s where I first tried them . . . so good! (And now my mouth is watering.)

  23. Bob says:

    Not all bathrooms are without toilet paper. Jaktujak market has so many tourists they usually have toilet paper in the public bathrooms (which have their own ready supply of bacteria, so use at your own risk). What got me was that even in some of the nicer hotels they don’t have regular hot water. They have a RV-style shower that you have to turn on 20 minutes before you start using it!

  24. Grammy says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for bringing this “home” to us, Karen. I love our local Farmer’s Market that sets up every Saturday morning in the parking lot of a dying mall, but this one with a train running right through the middle of it is way ahead of ours. We don’t have fish for sale, but the occasional chicken is available. The artful displays of all the food in the Thailand Risky Market are so appealing, no wonder the tourists are tempted.

  25. Terrie says:

    Great memories, thanks. We did six weeks a few years ago in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. It was amazing. We did go to the market, its a site to see. Just so you know, I ate crickets, silk worms and tarantulas along with all kinds of street food, in some local houses and many extremely dodgy looking “restaurants” – never got the least bit sick. But everyone knows you don’t eat dairy in SEAsia……
    (though to be fair we did eat yogurt in Chaing Mai at the ‘Chaing Mai Kung Fu Self Defense Health Center’ but it was made there not prepackaged.)
    Lots of pics and stuff on my website if you want to relive some of your trip through someone elses photos.

  26. The first time I read the second paragraph, I read it as “gangs of scooters riding hungry people.” A hilarious image, but not entirely accurate, I realize. Even without the scooters, it looks like risky market was an amazing experience.

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