One Night In Bangkok
One Night In Bangkok
It is impossible to describe the smell of Bangkok. The scent wafting through the streets changes from moment to moment. At any given second the hot breeze may change to the distinct aroma of sewage, before the wind takes it away and replaces it with the smell of sickeningly sweet pineapple and mango being sold from a nearby cart.
Street food is the everywhere. Old women stand hunched over large black woks crackling and popping with hot oil as they drop in chicken legs or whole crabs. Sausages lay piled up on trays in the sun, manned by someone with a fan to keep the flies off, causing you to wonder how long the meat has been baking in the heat of the day.
Chicken. There is a lot of chicken. Every single body part is fried in every single way and then either hung up, splayed out, or piled high onto platters for customers willing to pay the 80 baht. The streets are alive with shoppers and purveyors striking a deal or bargaining for their dinner. Vendors hand over organ meats on sticks or ladle vegetables and sauces into individual plastic bags for to go orders. People eat either standing on the corner, as they walk, or crowded around little plastic tables while motorbikes whiz past, babies riding in the front. Skinny cats with loosely hanging utters lay asleep, flopped across shelves holding the condiments used for the food. Passerby’s stop to say hello to friends and nobody has a problem with staring at the lone “farang”, foreigner as they call out to me like they are playing a game of where’s Waldo. It’s too hot outside for me so I carry a large icy Chang Beer that has almost as much condensation on the glass as I have sweat dripping down the back of my neck. I pause here and there and take a swig while I contemplate taking the risk on those unique tiny bright blue mussels that are being steamed in heaping mountains, or those clams sitting in a spicy red stew of a broth.
My culinary schooling and serve safe certification screams at the forefront of my mind as I take in the hunks of raw skewered meat and vegetables sitting mixed together on a bare and lonely table, as well as the plastic hotel pans of seafood lined up, almost certainly left out for more than four hours in the danger zone. But I’m hungry and curious, I can’t resist. It’s just too exciting, the area is too alive. Maybe it’s the sight of all these new and exotic little foods beckoning to me. Maybe it’s the noise, the sounds of cars, bikes, babies, and music swirling all around the cramped little streets producing It’s own heartbeat. Or maybe it’s the smell. The streets of Charoen krung 85 with it’s dank heat that absorbs all the scents of fresh fruit, stinging spices, grilled goods and nearly soured meat- and leaves it hanging in the air around me. It’s the smell of Bangkok.