Author Topic: Bangkok has the world's best street food — but authorities want it gone  (Read 1786 times)

Offline thaiga

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An article from Bangkok has the world's best street food, the authorities want it gone, can you imagine it empty pavements, nah, they would simply be a parking space for motorcycles. The street food of Bangkok is the blood of Bangkok, identity, charm, famous, i wouldn't go to far to change what the tourists come for. Wake up smell the coffee.

Bangkok has the world's best street food — but authorities want it gone

"We've been here for 17 years … but we have to accept it."

Photo: Malai Panuwannarat will be evicted in weeks. (ABC News: Liam Cochrane)

The move has been criticised for depriving people of affordable meals and pushing Bangkok towards a more sterile future.

"The street food of Bangkok is the blood of Bangkok … this is the charm, it is the fame, it is the identity of Bangkok," said Korakot Punlopruksa, a food writer and travel show host.

"I think it's a little bit short-sighted for the Bangkok authority to do this to all the life in Bangkok."

CNN recently ranked the city as having the world's best street food for a second year in row, with Sydney placing 22nd.

The soldiers who run Thailand, following a 2014 coup, welcomed the praise.

"Prime Minister (General Prayut Chan-o-cha) knew about this and he is glad that Bangkok was still chosen as the world number one for street food," Government spokesman Lieutenant-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.

But even as the accolades were being accepted, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration was handing out eviction notices in some of the most popular street-food hotspots.

Sellers on Thonglor, Ekkamai and Pridi Banomyong roads have until April 17 to cease operations.

Nearby, on Soi 38, three generations of women had sold rice with pork leg on the street until being forced into a carpark late last year.

"I took over from my mum when she was retired at 63 years old," Bangurn Meebuaheng said, as she and her daughter prepared for the evening's diminished trade.

"When we were outside everyone can see us [and] we got both regular customers and those just passing by … but since we moved in here our income dropped so much."

Soi 38 was previously a mecca for visiting foodies, locals and expatriates living in the fashionable Thonglor district.

"There were a lot of foreigner customers before, they came back and showed me old pictures and asked where have were all vendors gone," Ms Bangurn told the ABC.

Photo: Three generations of Bangurn Meebuaheng's family have sold rice with pork leg on Soi 38. (ABC News: Liam Cochrane)

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration declined a request for an interview, saying it was too busy to provide details about the clearance operation.

Local media reported 15,000 street-food vendors had been handed eviction notices.

While congestion is a problem on the streets of Bangkok, some areas are being developed with luxury condominium buildings and high-end retail.

Most of the food sellers will take their carts and plastic chairs, and try to find new locations on smaller lanes.

"I will go and find them [when they relocate] but I think from their business point of view, losing the frontage of Soi Thonglor is going to probably be quite hard for them," British expatriate Adam Spacey said, as he ate a rice dish at a soon-to-close stall.

Photo: Adam Spacey says he will follow his favourite stall to its new location. (ABC News: Liam Cochrane)

Many Thais rely on street food for a nutritious meal costing only $1 to $2.

One study estimated that two-thirds of Bangokians eat at least one meal a day from street-side vendors.

"I usually come to eat here — I don't go anywhere else, always this one," Anatchaya Chaisanam, a motorbike taxi rider eating a lunch of chicken noodle soup, said.

"If there are only expensive places, people who have same job as me, just can't afford it."

In a hierarchical culture of vast wealth gaps, street food is a great leveller.

"Bangkok has so many layers, complexities of life, super-poor to super rich … [but the] authorities don't understand what is the identity of Bangkok," Ms Korakot said.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline nan

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don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.
you cannot rid all of Bangkok of street food vendors or it would not be Bangkok. i know they take up some footpath and it's dangerous,as you avoid huge vats of boiling oil,hot barbecues. if that was gone,it would not be Bangkok.

it is also a tourist attraction as some have never seen before. the quality and the price,tourists love it,things they don't have in their own country which makes bangkok unique,different to else where,it is part of life for the thai people,not just them that earn a living but also the people living there.we all know it is illegal,but what isn't.
at least they are working and give more attraction than a new condo.
a solution might be food courts they work a treat in singapore.

just my two portions
ignorance does not help your post one bit but it probably says an awful lot about you.

Offline sowhat

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why don't they sell prawn balls :-[ i missem

Offline Baby Farts

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A lot of these street vendors are a nuisance.  I understand many are poor and trying to make a living.  They can't complain for having to move when many of them have been running their business rent free and many tapping into the electric lines for free. In some areas it's so congested, you have to walk out into the middle of the street just to get by them.  The ones that sell junk (not food) are the worse, touting everyone that passes by.  Sorry I don't need a butterfly knife today or a machete.  Then you have to deal with idiot motorcyclists who don't know the difference between a sidewalk and the road.

Nan's idea makes perfect sense.  There are places where they can clear out some huge lot and make it an outdoor food court where you can have all of them together and take your pick of food.  That makes more sense to me than having them spread out all over the place.  Saveone for example is a place like this. The problem is people don't want to pay money and rent a stall like the rest of us.  Instead, it's much easier to leach off the system.

I remember years ago there was this lady who just out of the blue decided to setup her Somtam shop right in front and to the right of the old Lebanese restaurant and Pizza Shop.  Didn't ask the store front owners, just plopped down and started doing business, and tapping into the power lines as well.  If you parked in front on the road in front, she'd come out and yell, telling you to move your car.  Then she (as well as other food vendors do) would dump her left over slop in the road or try to carefully pour it down some sewer hole which created a stink that was just sickening.   She once tried to order (not ask politely) to move my car because I was obstructing the view of her Shit-tam business.  I told her she was doing business there illegally and where I am parked is public parking. She didn't like that and went to a flurry of "farang this and farang that."  My response was "Lao this and Lao that." 

I have an idea.  How about replace one of those Thai fish bowls with a lot where all these street vendors can set up shop. Instead of building yet another temple, (even though there are ten of them all within walking distance of each other), create a place for these unfortunate people.   

Offline thaiga

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Good post B/F, a food court as nan suggests, BUT ...  they would have to pay rent - now they wouldn't like that would they  :-[ The BMA is gonna clear em all out, according to the article below, i just can't see they will stay empty

BMA bans all street food across Bangkok this year

Despite international acclaim, Yaowarat and Khao San Road next targets of cleanup

STREET FOOD vendors will disappear from Bangkok by the end of the year in the interests of cleanliness, safety and order, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) says.

In the capital, which is internationally recognised for its street food, famous locations such as Chinatown/Yaowarat and Khao San Road would be cleared of vendors in a bid to beautify Bangkok.

A month after the city was named the finest street food destination in the world by CNN for the second year, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) continued its operation to reclaim the pavements for pedestrians and announced that vendors would be banned entirely from the capital’s streets.

The CNN report said that “it is impossible to avoid street food in Bangkok, where sidewalk vendors in different parts of the city operate on a fixed rotation. It said that some take care of the breakfast crowd with sweet soymilk and bean curd, others dish up fragrant rice and poached chicken for lunch. The late-night crowd offers everything from phad thai noodles to grilled satay”.

Wanlop Suwandee, chief adviser to Bangkok’s governor, said yesterday that the internationally recognised areas of Yaowarat and Khao San Road would be the next target after they successfully cleared the pavements of food vendors in areas such as Siam Square, Pratunam, and the flea market under Phra Phuttayotfa Bridge.

“The BMA is now working to get rid of the street vendors from all 50 districts of Bangkok and return the pavements to the pedestrians. Yaowarat and Khao San Road will be our next goal in clearing out illegal vendors,” Wanlop said.

‘No exceptions’

While Wanlop said he was grateful for CNN’s recognition of Bangkok as the world’s best street food city, he said cleanliness and safety in the streets were the BMA’s priorities.

“The street vendors have seized the pavement space for too long and we already provide them with space to sell food and other products legally in the market, so there will be no let-up in this operation. Every street vendor will have to move out,” he said.

Piyabutr Jiuramonaikul, president of the Khao San Business Council, said he did not know about the BMA’s plans to manage the street vendors in Khao San Road and there would have to be further discussions with the city authority.

“There are more than 200 street food vendors in Khao San Road and they are the uniqueness of our district that attracts many tourists from around the world,” Piyabutr said.

Bangkok resident Romdheera Phruetchon said that while she agreed with the BMA’s efforts to create clean and tidy pavements, this could coexist with the preservation of city’s world-famous street food.

“The BMA should set up a zone for the street vendors, so they can keep their jobs and preserve the charm of Bangkok’s street food,” said Romdheera. “The people can benefit from selling goods, while the tourists can enjoy the unique street food of our city.”

The Nation

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline Baby Farts

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I do enjoy many of the street vendor food.  Since most of them aren't huge businesses, perhaps they could offer a discounted rent rate or something. 

As far as the BMA clearing them out....that's going to be interesting.  I wonder what kind of protest or march will take place.  No offense, but I wonder how many of these folks pay their taxes.

Offline thaiga

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The best street food on the planet, but Bangkok bans its roadside stalls

City hall has said Chinatown’s Yaowarat Road will be one of the next areas to be cleared. Photograph: Alamy

Some of the city’s most acclaimed street food hotspots have been dismantled by developers who have bought land and evicted vendors.

Last year, the renowned Soi Sukhumvit 38 food market, which had operated for nearly 40 years, was destroyed to make way for a high-priced condominium. Some of the vendors selling pad thai and mango sticky rice were allowed to set up in the basement of a nearby building. Others selling egg noodles with BBQ pork and crab still squat in the area.

City hall says the central district of Siam has been cleared by police and that Chinatown’s Yaowarat Road and the backpacker haunt, the Khao San Road, made famous in the novel The Beach, are next on the list.

Along the busy streets of Thong Lor and Ekkamai, notices were warning vendors that the deadline to leave the area was 1 June. But it was brought forward to Monday 16 April, after the traditional New Year holiday.

Along Thong Lor on Tuesday, almost all the street vendors had left. Next to the spot where a popular chicken broth stall was based, a new sign says permits to trade have been revoked.

One vendor, a 61-year-old woman selling coconut and pumpkin sweets, said she was allowed to remain as she rented space in front of a pharmacy for about £5 a day, rather than using public space.

“There is nothing I can do,” said the woman, who called herself Aunty Tao and said she had worked there for three decades. She added that for years, law enforcement had often confiscated equipment from unlicensed vendors and fined them up to £35.

There has been confusion about how the policy will be implemented. The area’s district chief, Boontham Huiprasert, said push-cart vendors who could move around would still be tolerated but larger semi-permanent stalls with seating would have to go.

“Or if they can find a place to set up their shop without obstructing the sidewalk, such as behind the railing of the Thong Lor police station or some other private building, that would be OK too,” he said.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re: Day after banning street food - streets are a ghost town
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2017, 03:32:08 PM »
Day after law banning street food in Thong Lor takes effect, streets are a ghost town

We took a walk on Soi Thong Lor (Sukhumvit Soi 55) last night to see how many vendors were observing the new law banning street food in their ‘hood.

The law took effect on Monday, which was part of the Songkran holiday and the one day of the week when vendors were prohibited to sell anyway. We thought we would find at least a few vendors that weren’t observing the law and had set up their stalls with the intention of moving quickly if the police showed up. Instead, we found… nothing.

Strips of the main street that are usually so congested with food stalls that you have to walk around them into dangerous traffic were deserted.

Most of the people we approached seemed unaware of the new law or perhaps still sleepy from the long Songkran holiday.

Many said, “Oh no! There is no new law. They are just closed on Monday.” When we pointed out that it was Tuesday, they either looked confused, shrugged, or said that the vendors must still be on vacation. But, it’s easy to be confused on the first day back to work after a long holiday that includes a Monday. Those Tuesdays always feel like Mondays.

We can understand that some vendors may yet be meandering back from their hometowns after the Thai New Year, but every single one?

Pipe, a third-year university student that lives in Nana, often hangs out in Thong Lor. He was the first person to look around in a surprised way when it was pointed out that the vendors were not missing because it was Monday since it was, in fact, Tuesday.

He said that he eats street food four or five times a week and would be pretty unhappy to see it disappear completely. “I think it’s not appropriate. Street food is part of Thai culture, but if you ask me if it’s right or wrong, I can’t say it’s wrong. I think the law needs to depend on the area.”

Mook, a barista at The Coffee Club in Thong Lor, had not heard about the new law. She also thought the vendors must be straggling back from their Songkran holidays.

Seino, a Japanese man who has lived in Thong Lor for 20 years, was the only person strolling down a section of the street that is usually so occupied by food, ice cream, and cold drink vendors that pedestrians have to walk into the traffic to get through the mess. He said that he rarely eats street food and that, if it didn’t return to his neighborhood, he would not be too upset since it was easier to walk. However, he was adamant that no new law had been passed. He said, “Come back at the weekend and I’m sure this street will be full of food vendors again!”

Sara Gabai is an Italian expat who has lived in Thong Lor for 7 years. “I’ve seen a lot of changes in this area. Before, when we didn’t have The Commons, international chains and global brands here, the stalls were the only places where you could meet your friends for food and a beer after work.”

“Now, we’re here at Sit and Wonder because it takes the street food concept indoors. It’s almost the only place left for this kind of food around here. It’s affordable for every day. The prices for a lot of the places around here now are as high — or higher — than Europe. But, my concern isn’t for us,” she said referring to herself and her friends, “it’s for the workers in this neighborhood. Where are they supposed to eat?”

Sure they can eat food from the convenience stores that litter the street, but Gabai said she thinks a convenience store diet can’t be healthy for eating every day. “You know, it sounds crazy, but some of the street food on this street seemed pretty healthy. Like balanced food that you can get nutrition from every day when you don’t have a lot of money. I know it saved me many times when I had to watch my budget.”

“What scares me is that this is going to end up as a street with only luxuries [and] big hotels, and I don’t know what will come of the locals.”

Nui, a woman who spoke nid noi English and was handing out massage flyers on the street, knew about the law but was not concerned. She said she used to frequent the food stalls but now “I’ll get something at 7 [Eleven],” she said as she fanned herself with her stack of flyers in the hot Bangkok night on the largely deserted street.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Street food order starts in Chinatown, Khao San

Tourists enjoy a meal close to traffic on Yaowarat Road, Bangkok. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

The government will improve the pavements and impose zoning and opening hours on street food vendors on Yaowarat and Khao San roads in Bangkok.

A reform committee on the environment headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon resolved on Wednesday to improve the condition of street food sales in both areas as the Cable News Network (CNN) praised street foods as the charms of Bangkok, said Sub Lt Pornchanok Amphan, a spokesperson of the Defence Ministry.

The footpaths would be repaved, cleanliness would be improved, food stalls would show unique designs, and traffic flows would be facilitated to prevent congestion, she said.

"These measures are aimed at promoting the value of Thai food and souvenirs," the spokesperson said without elaborating on the measures and their timeframes.

Sub Lt Pornchanok said authorities had already removed street vendors on 431 locations in Bangkok.

They would also dismantle 33 remaining houses encroaching on the Mahakan ancient fort on Bangkok's historic Rattanakosin Island within this month.

Besides, the committee already improved bus stops for interprovincial passenger vans at 124 locations in 29 provinces to promote public safety and convenience and facilitate traffic flows, she said.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Bangkok Street Food. The Fabulous Stalls of Khao San Road

A determined drive against food stalls

The BMA is being lambasted for shutting down sidewalk vendors, but restrictions are needed

A plan by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to ban sidewalk food stalls throughout the city has met with a huge public outcry. The groans are coming not just from the vendors and lower-income residents who depend on the inexpensive fare for their daily meals, but also from foreign tourists who view street food as a major attraction of this city, part of its innate charm.

The city’s efforts to “return” the pavement space to pedestrians has met with much praise from residents in general, even if it’s caused aggravation and financial harm for the street vendors who have to find new places to do business or shut down altogether. Most Bangkok sidewalks are narrow, particularly in the inner city. It’s entirely the fault of poor urban planning, the result of two centuries of letting residences and shophouses nudge close to footpaths, so that when the roads were inevitably widened to handle more traffic, the buildings were directly abutting.

Thanks to countless celebrity visitors and foreign YouTube bloggers with sizeable followings, Bangkok street food has been featured regularly and praised highly on the social media. Bangkok is renowned as a street-food destination, one of the world’s street-food capitals. However, the BMA this week vowed to continue implementing its ambitious policy of reclaiming the pavements for pedestrians. Vendors, it said, would be barred entirely from the streets by the end of the year. Reminded that CNN has singled out Bangkok as the world’s top city for street food for two consecutive years, Wanlop Suwandee, chief adviser to the city’s governor, said he appreciated the plaudits, but cleanliness and safety were the BMA’s top priorities.

The ferocity of City Hall’s intent has met with opposition and dismay. Major foreign media outlets have noted the widespread lamenting on the social networks and have tended to agree that Bangkok will just not be the same without its street fare.

In fact the food stalls haven’t been completely removed from the pavements. Many, along with stalls selling clothes and other items, have simply relocated a few metres, to space rented in front of shophouses, which is technically not public space, even if it’s part of a public walkway. Other food-stall owners have moved to nearby rented and roomier roadside properties and resumed business as usual. Clearly there are many others who will need to do the same,

with BMA-designated markets

seeming to offer ideal locales.

The thrust should be to allow enough space for pedestrians on pavements. Street vending must be completely banned on narrow sidewalks. There are, however, a lot of pavements in the city that are spacious enough for both foot traffic and food stalls. These areas could continue being shared between pedestrians and street hawkers.

The ban on roadside hawking should be relaxed in key tourist areas like Chinatown and Khao San Road, particularly at night when there’s less vehicular traffic. It would maintain the city’s status as a world street-food capital and a tourist draw. As is the case now, residents and tourists alike could continue enjoying delicious food at night from stalls in these areas.

The authorities should certainly take measures to ensure that street food is safe for consumers. Tourists occasionally complain about food poisoning. There must be proper health requirements and inspections. Also, licences must be required to run roadside food stalls, as they are in other street-food havens like Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul. Today anyone can set up a roadside food shop if they have the money to do so, with no need to get a licence or permit.

The Nation
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re: Are they kidding? - Bangkok Street Food Festival in June
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2017, 06:43:22 PM »
Are they kidding? After banning vendors across city, BMA to co-host Bangkok Street Food Festival in June

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) have just shockingly announced that they will co-host a Bangkok Street Food Festival in June.

We’re not sure why. The BMA is planning to spend the entire year removing and restricting street food from all the city’s major streets. So, what’s to celebrate?

After removing vendors from Siam Square, Pratunam, Tha Prachan, Silom, Ekkamai, Thong Lor and Phra Khanong, the TAT and BMA  plan to hold Bangkok Street Food Festival 2017 in June since Bangkok has been named by CNN as one of the top street food cities in the world.

The event will present street food along major tourist streets in Bangkok, namely, Yaowarat, Khaosan and Pratunam areas, according to the National News Bureau. The exact location and the number of streets are yet to be determined. Also to be determined is how they plan to return vendors to Pratunam, an area where they fought long and hard to strip the streets of food.

The TAT chief said though street vendors must follow regulations laid out by the government, the street food will be continually promoted.

What we are asking is: How can you promote…nothing?
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Final orders at Uncle Pan’s noodle stall as Thong Lor street food banned

Photo: Jaipet Mameesuk/Facebook

For three decades, cops, builders, street cleaners and partying rich kids have come together to gorge on noodles at Uncle Pan’s streetside stall in Bangkok’s most hi-so neighborhood. 

But now, the 67-year-old food vendor is no longer welcome at his pavement spot. He is yet another victim of the purge of street food stalls by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), who say they are cluttering Bangkok’s curbs.

With dishes that average THB35-55 a plate, most of the city’s street stalls don’t make a fortune selling their fare that spans from grilled seafood skewers to spicy papaya salads.

But they have won global acclaim as some of the finest fast food chefs in the world, fueling a booming city besotted by eating.

Like his peers, Pan Chaiyasit works behind a small push cart where he dishes out yellow egg noodles — topped with pork and wonton dumplings — to customers who cluster together on plastic chairs spread across the pavement.

The family-run stall is a fixture in a neighborhood that has exploded with development over the past few decades.

But with new laws being enforced this week that ban street food in Thong Lor, Ekkamai, and Phra Khanong, Pan must either uproot his restaurant to a new locale or downsize the shop so it doesn’t spill onto the sidewalk.

“I’ve been selling here since there was nothing,” the genial, apron-wearing uncle said, explaining that the Thong Lor area was a tree-studded backwater when he first set up.

Today, his customers sit ringside at a central artery of Bangkok’s ritziest neighborhood — the stall is located at the top of Thong Lor Soi 9 — surrounded by towering condos, upscale restaurants, and nightclubs.

That makes for a varied clientele that pulls from all layers of Thailand’s social fabric.

“Office workers, police, soldiers… even if they drive a Mercedes Benz, they have the same right to eat here,” Pan said, wiping away a bead of sweat as waiters buzzed around him to serve the after-work crowd.

On a good month, Pan rakes in around THB30,000. But his sales rely on his close ties to the neighborhood.

“We all know each other on this street. Everyone, factory workers, company staff, they know me and we are friends…if we move, we won’t have these relationships.”

Yet city officials insist the foot paths must be “returned to the public” and have laid out a plan to bar tens of thousands of street stalls from the capital’s main roads, instead squeezing them into side streets or hawker centers as they do in Singapore.

Pan isn’t sure what the future holds — other than more bowls of soup.

“Even though we sometimes face trouble, we have to keep selling. We have to fight to survive.”
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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You couldn't make this up if you tried - there are now plans to make Thailand a "Paradise of Street Food"
there even offering  loans for people who want to start a “food truck” business so as to promote quality, clean and cheap price street food in the capital

Commerce to make Thailand “Paradise of Street Food”

 The Ministry of Commerce plans to make Thailand as a "Paradise of Street Food" after the country was named for having the best street food in the world for the second consecutive year this year.

Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said the promotion of quality and clean street food would be done through its current “Noo Nich” project which emphasised on “delicious food, good quality, clean and cheap price.”

The project is now implemented in Bangkok and is expanding to the provinces, she said.

The project is to recommend eateries offering good-quality and clean food at reasonable prices, so local people and travelers can have more restaurant options when they come to Thailand, she said.

In addition, the ministry has collaborated with the Office of SMEs Promotion to provide loans for people who want to start a “food truck” business so as to promote quality, clean and cheap price street food in the capital.

She said Bangkok Metropolitan Administration will  be asked to find locations for all food truck vendors registering with the Ministry, as well as help with public relations.

She believed through all its efforts, Thailand could become a paradise of street food.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.