Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for August 3rd, 2009

Bangkok’s Chinatown

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 3rd August, 2009

Trok ItsaranuphapSo much of Bangkok these days is high-rise, anonymous and motorway-veined that it is a relief to walk along the clogged streets of the city’s Chinatown and feel that one really is in a place with a vibrant past. Chinatown is the city’s old commercial centre and is still a source of everything from automobile parts to gold chains. It can be easily accessed from Bangkok’s splendid 19th century railway station, Hualamphong, which is also the western end of the Metro line. Most of the people you see — as well as the language you hear — are Chinese, as is the odour of dried mushrooms and shrimps and other community favourites, which are just some of the many hundreds of comestibles on offer in the very narrow but atmospheric market along Trok Itsaranuphap, a long alleyway running between two of Chinatown’s main arteries, Th Yaowarat and Th Charoen Krung. Occasionally, some mad young delivery boy on a motorbike tries to manoeuvre his way through the pressing throng of shoppers. At such unnerving times, it is good to syphon off to take a peek at the oldest Chinese temple in Bangkok, dating from the time of the Qing dynasty Emperor Kangxi. By this stage (in summer, at least) one is dripping and dropping, but the Grand China Princess Hotel nearby has an air-conditioned lobby, where some of the world’s most delicious iced fresh fruit smoothies are available.

[photo: Ange]

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