PHOTO: Sitting near the street and enjoying a meal just became more difficult in Bangkok. (photo via Flickr/Ninara)
Bangkok is wiping one of its amazing treasures clear off the map.
The Guardian reports Thailand’s government, with aims to clean up its streets, has taken dramatic steps to destroy its street-food industry.
Some places that have been around decades are no longer able to sell delicacies that had locals and tourists coming back day after day.
The report states that the initiative took place along Bangkok’s major roads but hints that a far more widespread action is in store. It quotes Wanlop Suwandee, chief adviser to Bangkok’s governor, who warns that the government is “now working to get rid of stalls from all 50 districts of Bangkok.”
Suwandee continues: “There will be no let-up in this operation. Every street vendor will have to move out.”
As the report reminds, Thailand’s crown jewel is wildly popular with tourists from all over the globe. Last September, it held the figurative trophy as the world’s most popular tourist destination in the world according to the Mastercard Index of Global Destination Cities.
And, as the Guardian notes, CNN recently offered a particularly apropos accolade. It named Bangkok’s street food the best in the world.
“It's impossible to avoid street food in Bangkok, where sidewalk vendors in different parts of the city operate on a fixed rotation," CNN's report said. "Some take care of the breakfast crowd with sweet soymilk and bean curd, others dish up fragrant rice and poached chicken for lunch. The late-night crowd offers everything from phad thai noodles to grilled satay.”
TravelPulse’s Janeen Christoff recently spoke with area expert Jennifer Arnow who explained: “Bangkok is synonymous with street food, and for good reason. Everywhere you turn, there's a food stall hawking all sorts of mouthwatering dishes.”
That sensational succulence will now dry up.
The Guardian spoke with food blogger Chawadee Nualkhair, who explained that previous attempts to remove vendors proved foolhardy, “Street food was still too popular with the locals.”
Nualkhair goes on to explain that this decision hurts more than just tourists looking to taste local flavors: “Of course, it would make Bangkok less charming. But it also takes a big chunk of cheap options away from working Thais, and closes up an avenue of work for many. Where will shop employees, construction workers and taxi drivers eat?”
Vendors are reportedly closing up shop quickly as warning notices are put in place. And, according to The Guardian, food options once ubiquitous throughout the area will be whittled down to those fortunate enough to be leasing space.
READ MORE: Top 5 Must-See Attractions in Bangkok
There is hope to snag a quick, delicious bite as push-cart vendors will reportedly slide by and, as a police official tells the publication, “Or if they can find a place to set up their shop without obstructing the sidewalk, such as behind the railing of the Thong Lor police station or some other private building, that would be OK too.”
Nonetheless, the once iconic moment of finding yourself on some chair in the middle of the sidewalk as you devour a local delicacy is all but over.
For those who were fortunate enough to have caught that kind of moment, it was fun while it lasted.