Tuesday, February 16, 2010

One Afternoon in Bangkok Chinatown

Unlike our hometown Singapore, where many places shut down for the first few days of Chinese New Year, it was pretty much business as usual here in Bangkok. In fact, most establishments took the opportunity to do more business related to the festive season. A key section in Chinatown was closed to traffic on the first and second day of Chinese New Year - 14 and 15 Feb 2010 - so that tourists and locals could walk along the streets and soak in the ambiance.
Bangkok's Chinatown is one of the oldest in the world, set up by Chinese traders who came to trade with Siam during the Rattanakosin period, over 200 years ago. Thanon Yaowarat, the main street in today's Chinatown, was built in the reign of King Rama V in 1891. The crowded street winds through the bustling heart of Chinatown like a mythical dragon rearing its head at the Odean Gate. Many people queued patiently to have a chance to say a short prayer beneath the arches.
The first landmark we passed on the way to Yaowarat was Wat Traimit, home of the Golden Buddha, the world's biggest solid gold statue.
We did not have a proper lunch, so everyone was hungry. When Daddy spied some folks eating a familiar snack on the road side, he decided to buy some for us. While the Chwee Kuay looked similar to the ones back home, they were smaller and came in both white and purple. The texture was too hard, and the chili way too spicy for me.
We must have passed hundreds of vendors selling these "Dragon Drums". Daddy was really tempted to buy one for me, but Mommy reminded him that I would want to get my hands all over it and destroy it in no time.
Here was a celebrity in the flesh... Khao San Road's very own Mr. Thailand! Wearing his trademark oversized sunglasses, he went all out this time, ditching his usual colonial outfit, and featuring at least 5 different advertisements using his costume and saamlor (rickshaw).
Yaowarat literally turned into food street for this festival. There were all kinds of sweet and savoury snacks, Thai, Chinese and many ethnic minority fare.
But our favourite food for the afternoon was handmade fish balls, served pipping hot out of the steamer. In fact, we literally parked ourselves in front of the stall for a good ten minutes, while I savoured my delectable afternoon snack.
Unfortunately for me, all these yummy refreshments were just eye candy for us. "Too much sugar! We'll get diabetes!" repeated Mommy, everywhere we went. So all we had to quench our thirsts were coconut juice and plain water. How about next time when Mommy is not watching, ok Daddy?

6 comments:

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh my goodness Serline! What a colorful and beautiful place you live : ). Wow. Just amazing.

Kathy said...

I love each of your Chinese New Year pictures but especially the ones depicting architecture!

♥ Kathy said...

Awesome pics!! Happy Ruby Tuesday

miragee said...

看起來好熱鬧喔!在曼谷會想家嗎?

Serline said...

还好啦!忙着家里和baby都没时间了。何况老妈子有哥照顾。我放心。你自己呢?

Tezzie said...

Beautiful colours...and yum! ...so much good food!!!