The Lost markets of Bangkok (1/2): Sukhumvit 38

Sukhumvit 38 open fire

This is a two-part series on the dying street markets of Bangkok. We will consider first Sukhumvit 38 and thereafter Pak Khlong Talad, the defunct flower market.

At the beginning of Soi Sukhumvit 38 was a vibrant and wonderful hub of street food. This hub of street food was resting especially on the tolerance of an old landlord who allowed low rents for the vendors in order to keep alive that lovely place.

Earlier, in 2016, after the death of the landlord, his heirs sold the land to a real estate company which is planning on building another of those towering condominium complexes on that land (very near to the Thonglor BTS).

As a consequence, Sukhumvit 38 street food slowly died off, most vendors relocating voluntarily or being replaced by the Bangkok Municipal Authority into closed markets. People lamented this for being the “singaporisation” of street food, but while the folklore and warmth of Sukhumvit 38 was undeniable, this had also its inconveniences, in particular grease on the pavements, poor hygiene and pollution due to the use of charcoal for open fires (see pics).

Today, the market is about dead and only pictures remain as a far reminder of a place that once enticed foreigners and Thais alike.

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