Continuing with the topic of food in Thailand, let’s consider how people buy their produce. Certainly, there are western-style supermarkets in Krungthep (Bangkok) and other major cities. Each neighborhood also has its traditional fresh market where vendors line the sidewalks or stalls in a designated area. But perhaps the most interesting way is to have the produce market come to you.
A common site are the independent vendors who drive produce trucks. These modified pickups are packed with vegetables and fruit – many vendors specialize in just fruit – and drive around the small sois (alleys), selling their wares. Usually the husband drives and the wife sits in the truck bed, conducting business just as if she were in a small shop – albeit a shop with very little room to move!
The trucks sometimes park at convenient locations near groups of shops or restaurants. Other times, they just cruise slowly up and down the sois. Quite often they are equipped with a loudspeaker and either the husband or the wife will make their pitch in the nonstop patter of a sideshow busker along the boardwalk. “We have apples, fresh apples from China. Get them for only five baht a piece – buy ten, get two free. Fresh corn from Samut Phrakan, get it today…”
Even in our neighborhood, which is filled with the house compounds of old-money families and medium-rise condos, these truck-back vendors still seem to make a living. Every morning, I hear the garbled pitch broadcast from the loudspeaker, at first in the distance and eventually nearing, passing, and then fading away. One wonders how many more years those sounds will still be able to be heard here in the city. Seeing that they’ve lasted this long, I would suspect they will be here for many years to come.