I’m going to take a little moment to say something, and then people can throw rotten tomatoes at me. I am sick of the World Cup. And no, it doesn’t have to do with the fact that the US got kicked out (ha ha, get that?OK, maybe it has to do with that a little bit) or that people I know to be dyed-in-the-wool Americans are walking around saying “football” instead of “soccer” (even though that is pretty annoying). It’s just that it’s dragged on too long, for FOREVER, and these people could be Martians playing petanque on the moon for all I know. Go…Uruguay? Whatever (people of Uruguay, please don’t be mad at me! Sports-based fatwas are against the law in Thailand. I looked it up).
I could go on and on (and on, I know you want me to) about things I’m sick of, like poncey “Thai” cafes that serve cake and “Twilight” (I’m really playing with fire here now, I know). But some things I want so much more of, like achingly cool weekend nighttime markets that sell retro clothing, throwaway kitsch and unusual snacks, all courtesy of people who are moonlighting as street vendors in their spare time.
The area is called Klong Tom, and it’s located between the Ratchadapisek and Lard Prao MRT stops. By day a test course for Bangkokians hoping to get their drivers’ licenses, this patch of land comes to life on Friday and Saturday nights as Thais scrape off their daytime office disguises in favor of second lives as T-shirt designers, vintage sneaker aficionados, or potato chip entrepreneurs.
The “Cocktail” bartender-type flinging coffee mugs into the air instead of bottles of rum might be the first indication that this isn’t any old kind of flea market. Then comes the merchandise on display: at first row upon row of hubcaps and unidentifiable car equipment (I know, I’m such a girl), gently segueing into food stalls hawking air-dried beef or chicken buried in cumin rice, rack upon rack of tiny vintage dresses, and tight-fitting boy shirts with the sleeves rolled up.
But a few favorites stood out: first, a tiny “pub” run out of the back of a wheezy Daihatsu, serving nothing but different types of home-made soda: lichee, green apple, grape, blueberry. I ordered a glass of strawberry and managed my way through most of this super-sweet concoction, hypnotized by the bright colors and whirling lights.
And the food: there’s a lot of it. Fried chicken, fishcakes, meatballs, it’s all there, a moveable feast. But my favorite would have to be the N&N Potato Twist truck, which uses a nifty little gizmo to craft potato “twists” from the tuber, deep-fries them, and then shakes these twists in a can with the seasoning to come up with tom yum, BBQ, cheese or sour cream potato chips, all in a matter of minutes.
On a night when England was playing someone, this market was packed, filled with like-minded souls who couldn’t have cared less about the “footy”, who Cheryl Cole is, or what John Terry did. I’m sort of sad that I kind of know these things. It is space in my brain that I could have used for something like math. But, thankfully, I won’t be hearing about them for much longer.