Stepping gingerly into a torrent of traffic to avoid a red-hot grill of pork skewers, I reflect that there’s not a lot of evidence of the much-trumpeted crackdown on Bangkok street food sellers in evidence in the smart district of Sukhumvit. The international media went to town on the story earlier this year, claiming the city would be “unrecognisable” without its famous fragrant stalls, blaming “gentrification” and calling it “a banal assault on way of life”. Months later, however, it’s still hard to make your way along the cracked pavements of the stall-filled sidestreets without risk to life and limb. The city authorities cited “order and hygiene” concerns, claiming it was part of a campaign to “return the footpath to pedestrians”, but were quick to state, in response to the outcry, that there would be “no outright ban”. Instead, they said, regulations were just being enforced. Yet reports persisted of evictions, and many people I spoke to in the city seemed to have a story of a favourite stall that had disappeared overnight. James Hacon, the strategy director for the UK restaurant group behind the Thaikhun and Chaophraya brands, itself set up by a former Bangkok street food vendor, tells… Read full this story
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