As you may have already heard, the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) had plans to bring “order” and “hygiene” to the streets by clearing away many of the vendors on the sidewalk. This is roughly analogous to telling Axl Rose that all he needs to turn back the clock is a nice black t-shirt, but that is neither here nor there.
The real story is, how far is the extent of the planned ban? Is there a plan at all, or a case of a government official being quoted on something, and then after the resulting furore, everybody going “Oh yeah our bad never mind”? Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
After widespread concern that the “world’s best street food city” ™ would go all Ghostbusters on its own street food, the final answer (so far) is that, no, the places that tourists like are all good, so you can stop writing negative stories about it now, please, thank you for your understanding.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the street food will be untouched. Just the opposite, the BMA assures us! In a bid to preserve “Thainess” of the street food, they have many different plans to regulate quality and order, including mandatory government-run training programs for the vendors. Phew! That doesn’t sound ominous at all! Because the very people I want in charge of my street food are the same sorts of people who came up with the idea of the Thai food tasting robot. I can rest easy now.
Maybe all the BMA really needs is to hear from us street food lovers. You can let the Minister of Tourism know your thoughts on Richard Barrow’s Facebook page here, where the government has already denied its purported plans to ban street food … anywhere? So does this mean my chicken biryani vendor can come back to Thonglor?
One place that is for sure dunzo, government ban or not, might be legendary congee vendor Joke Samyan. Here, in a video directed by Scott Preston and edited by Peter Potts, we ponder the glories of congee and the future of one of Bangkok’s most famous street food places.