Mark Wiens was raised in Central Africa where he developed a love for different cultures and a desire to sample unique forms of street food. After graduating from university in the United States, he set off to travel the world again and ended up as a street food addict in Asia. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Mark as he scours the streets of Bangkok for gastronomic delights.
Day One: Monday
6:00 – I woke up in a confusing daze to an obnoxious alarm clock that beeped loudly. Did a couple of quick sets of push-ups for exercise and got my blood flowing – I feel a lot more alive after doing that everyday.
6:30 – Headed to the market just down the street to get some fruit. In the morning the market is bustling with a kind of life that can only be experienced in the early morning when things are just getting started. I bought a stock of bananas, a bag of mangoes, and a selection of other tropical fruits.
7:30 – I returned to my apartment to get started online with some freelance writing projects. A brewed cup of stout Vietnamese coffee got me going.
10:00 – I ate a few more fruits – I love fruit!
14:00 – My stomach was grumbling so I headed out to my favourite street local Thai food stall. As usual I ordered way too much food that included a plate of stir fried shrimp with Thai basil (pad gra pao goong), yellow Thai curry with chicken (gai pad pongali) and two big plates of rice. I could feel the awesome heat of the chilies settling in my stomach on the walk back.
19:00 – I wasn’t even ready to eat again, but the thought of more Thai street food lured me in. I met up with a couple food-fanatic friends and we ordered up another gigantic feast.
21:00 – Didn’t do a lot, just hung with friends and relaxed in the apartment.
1:00 – I was happily in bed and so tired it didn’t take more than a few seconds for me to knock out.
Day Two: Tuesday
7:00 – I woke up with ease and my mind was immediately focused on durian – the king of fruits. In the market, my friend and I bought a mega four-kilo durian and ate it on spot as the vendor looked on with excitement and maybe a bit of disgust.
10:00 – With a breath of durian I caught the bus into central Bangkok to attend a meeting about developing a Thai food application.
12:00 – Met up with another blogging friend to exploit some wi-fi, do some excessive tweeting and drink a couple cups of coffee.
15:00 – It was time to grab some more street food. Today I just ate a plate of red curried green beans and chicken (gai pad prik gaeng) over rice.
16:00 – Bangkok is hot. We threw on the swimming trunks and took a cool dip in the pool.
19:00 – I rushed to get ready to do a street food crawl through Bangkok’s Chinatown area known as Yaowarat. The unpredictable traffic is highly annoying and frustrating in Bangkok but once I arrived and got off the rickety bus, it was all alright!
20:00 – As always, the scene was bumping with chaos and alive with hungry people. I connected with a few others and we ate a bunch of different and glorious Thai dishes.
Day Three: Wednesday
7:00 – The tropical morning rain made it hard to wake up and I ended up falling back asleep.
9:00 – Finally got up and started using the internet like crazy to get some work done before the weekend.
19:00 – I was ready to eat like mad. Growing up in Africa, not only do I like Thai food, but also African and Arab food. Went to the Nana district of Bangkok where I know a secret Cameroonian restaurant. We walked through the narrow corridor, up a few flights of stairs and I could already smell the fufu and the ground nut stew. It was excellent!
00:00 – Crashed for the night.
Day Four: Thursday
7:00 – Woke up and got ready to go to the Maeklong train market where the train goes straight through the bustling market. I had to take a series of trains to get there and finally arrived about two hours later.
11:00 – Ate some scrumptious lunch of fried fish and vegetables.
14:00 – Ate and waited around to see the amazing train navigate its way straight through the middle of the market. It was an incredible sight and I’d highly recommend it to anyone visiting Bangkok.
18:00 – Got back home after a series of long train rides on hard uncomfortable seats and walking through way too many crowds of people.
20:00 – I grabbed some dinner with a couple of buddies.
Day Five: Friday
7:00 – Woke up excited to go check out a floating market. Bangkok is famous for its floating markets, but little do many people know, that are are many local floating markets where it’s hard to even find another tourist.
11:00 – Ate some outstanding khao kluk kaphi and sampled a traditional Thai dish known as khao chair at the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market.
13:00 – Arrived back at home, got online and wrote a few blog entries to get caught up.
19:00 – More street food and then checked in for the night.
Day Six: Saturday
8:00 – Got up, drank a quick cup of coffee and walked out to the street to take the bus. The bus was crammed and I stood up without being able to move. Traffic was heavy but in about an hour I reached central Bangkok.
10:00 – A good friend of mine started a grassroots volunteering program to help under-privileged kids in a slum district of Bangkok. We arrived and the kids were already at the room right next to the train tracks.
13:00 – We scooted off to the next location, about 30 minutes by taxi away, to meet more kids and spent the afternoon playing games, teaching English phrases and just having fun.
16:00 – I was exhausted and ready to just sit down and eat a feast. We stopped to eat a roasted fish, a few plates of fresh green papaya salad and few more spicy dishes!
21:00 – I took a little nap and then headed out to meet some friends at night.
Day Seven: Sunday
9:00 – The alarm rang and I gingerly woke up.
10:00 – I was on the bus with my roommate en-route to attend a church service across town. When I’m in Bangkok I attend most Sundays.
13:00 – I always look forward to the Sunday afternoon feast. I tend to go a bit crazy, and today was no different. We first took Bangkok’s skytrain to the Chao Phraya river, where we took a boat across the choppy water. The restaurant was just a 10 minute walk from there.
I ordered up a feast for 5 of us. Southern Thai food is deeply spicy and characterized by pungent flavors that will wake you up. I loved it!
15:00 – I could do little but go home and take a nap.
18:00 – I was still stuffering from the feast and decided to catch up on e-mail and I wrote a few blog posts too.
Mark will be taking a trip to China for a month and also visiting Sri Lanka soon, before returning to Thailand, where there’s still so much food to discover! He shares all of his travel cultural adventures and photos on Migrationology, and he blogs about Thai street food at Eating Thai Food. He recently launched the Eating Thai Food Guide, an ultimate guide for eating Thai street food, and you can become a fan of Mark at his Facebook page.