Market on Wheels

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.


0 thoughts on “Market on Wheels

  1. That is so cool! There used to be a family that had a veggie farm in Fairfield, years ago… they used to drive their little pick-up truck thru the neighbourhoods in Bridgeport (the city next door). My mother loved it when they came thru… they were not too expensive and the veggies were really fresh and tasty. I always thought it was fun when I was a kid… kind of like the ice cream man for adults. LOL

  2. It reminds me of the ice cream truck coming down the road with its familiar music! or the walk about street vendor yelling, “coconut candy”, in Hong Kong.   

  3. *Sigh* The best we have is the roadside stand where you drive by where they are instead of vice versa. Sure wish someone other than the Schwan man would deliver…

  4. It was the same in India. The same sounds of peddlars hawking their produce. When I went home after a hiatus of about twenty years, they were still there. Last year after another twenty years, I saw similar scenes. I think there is some romance to old cutural traditions of the peddlers.

  5. My aunt star who lives in Alabama with her husband a judge?  They get produce delivered like this!  I thought it was only all over Alabama.  How interesting that it is other parts of the world!  My aunt Star  you know, it’s so weird in Alabama USA.  Aunt Star has a ‘maid’ who has basically helped her raise her girl (now fifty something) and has been with her practically all her life since she (Aunt Star) got married.  Leigh (the maid) is so old now she can’t get out of the “slave” mentality!  She will not eat at the same table with aunt star and her guests (us relatives).  She sits out on the porch!  Being not quite old enough to be of that era, I still just “don’t get it!’please keep your stories coming, I love them! tag me when you write something new, will ya?  I’m flaky and I am basically a slave to the universal in box

  6. That’s so nice and convenient. Although I guess it really does show how hard it is for so many people to make a living around the world. Do they ever sell seafood?

  7. Here in L.A., they play the Mariachi music whenever the fruit+ food truck rolls around the block. Regarding trucks with loudspeakers, while staying in Thailand, I also noticed monks standing on the rear of a flatbed pickup chanting through loudspeakers in the morning hours as well!

  8. @CurryPuffy – You know, I’ve seen that.  There seems to be something very un-monk-like in that.  People wait for specific, revered monks and receive blessings (and lucky lottery number tips).@AzureRecollections – No seafood or meat on these trucks that I’ve seen.  Too difficult to keep clean.@And_I_love – Tag you?  Okay.  Normally, people don’t care to be tagged.  LOL  I write just about every other day so you can always stop by for a visit, vitually guaranteed something new to read.@yang1815 – We’re a few years behind Taiwan, I guess…@ZSA_MD – It is a nice tradition, really.  Supermarkets aren’t everything.@murisopsis – Roadside stands are great, though. Not quite as convenient as a stand that drives to you, but at least you have the opportunity to buy direct from the producer.@stevew918 – We have those, too.  I want to do a series about all the different vendors who stroll around.@SamsPeeps – Wow, so this was something in the US, too?  Interesting…

  9. Whoa. I’ve seen pickup truck produce, but not quite so chock-full. It’s tangential, but now I’m really hungry for some fruit… wish I had access to more kinds of bananas in the U.S. When I visited the Dominican Republic, I got to sample half a dozen varieties, a couple of which were particularly delicious.

  10. GOD I MISS LIVING IN ASIACool that you picked a place like B.K. to live, instead of down south in beach-tourist hell. Briefly lived north of Sukhothai myself. Ever noticed that it’s almost spelled like “Suck Hot Thai”? Me either. Great pics. You should check out Cambodi – a place I’d live and die if I could find the means.

  11. @epiginoskete – Yes, more kinds of bananas!  I was amazed to learn about the many different varieties that are available from very sweet to very starchy, large ones, small ones, etc.  Sadly, at some point while growing up I lost my taste for bananas.  =(@bejewel07 – Yes, if only I knew when exactly they are coming around, it would be easier for me to do my shopping from them.@CareyGLY – You’re welcome.@Gunner_Poole – No, I hadn’t noticed that about Sukhothai, actually.  Yes, Bangkok is a better choice than Pattaya for sure, although I’d like to live a little more outside the city, somewhere quieter.@TheCheshireGrins – One wonders why they don’t!  Maybe they are weighted down with lead bricks?  Ha ha…@yang1815 – Next time we’re there, it would be fun to explore more outside of Taipei, Andy.

  12. yeah my father used to do this before we have our own stall at the wet market!!! kinda miss those days following him driving to the residential areas sellling veggies…

  13. I do not think I ever saw produce being sold out of a truck when we were there but there were plenty of little stalls that I visited on a regular basis for my fresh fruits and vegetables. And you mentioned apples…those were like GOLD when we lived in Bangkok!!! You only ate apples when you were sick…I don’t know if they were a treat or considered medicinal!! Each Christmas our 2 maids would ooh and ahh over the things we got them but you could tell what the REALLY adored was the sack full of shiney red apples that each of them received as a gift. I always wondered if they actually ATE them or if them SOLD them to make a few extra baht!! lol Such memories you help me relive!! Thank you!!! Ruth Ann

  14. whoa, that is one overloaded truck! i think that would be very convenient to have the market come to me; i really like the idea of the ability to get fresh produce all the time.

  15. @christao408 – Ask them the next time you see them. The ones that used to frequent my hometown had specific routes and so if you tell them that you want to buy from them the next time, they’ll keep you in mind and make sure to pass by your place around the specific time.

  16. @bejewel07 – That makes sense.  Thanks for the recommendation.@kunhuo42 – It certainly is.  If you are a homemaker or a maid, not having to go out to the market would be uber-convenient.@Redlegsix – I can imagine that apples would have been the big deal; anything imported.  These days imports (esp from China) are more common but they never taste quite as good as you would hope they would. Of course, that’s true even in the US these days where most apples have spent months in storage and have traveled hundreds if not thousands of miles.@lcfu – Oh, that’s interesting.  Must have been a lot of fun as a child to do that.

  17. Reminds me of days gone by – gee that makes me sound old LolBut it’s a while since I’ve seen a grocery van coming roundthe neighbourhood. Mind you, that said, where I live nowthere isn’t really the need, I’m only a minute or two’s walkfrom my town centre. Perhaps other areas do get them.As for different kinds of banana’s – I didn’t know they existed!Only ever seen one kind here in the UK.

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