Thursday, March 24, 2011

A touch of tradition at Tha Prachan, Bangkok's Moon Pier

Thanks to Wendy and Nueng, I feel like a Stranger in Bangkok once again. Not knowing about Kway Chap at Yaowarat is one thing, but not understanding the wonders of the Chao Phraya River after nearly 1.5 years here is really unforgiveable. Last Sunday, for the first time, I managed to explore many areas of Bangkok using the ferry boat service, and at 14baht per trip, I finally realise that if we live and work at the right places, there is another way to avoid the hell-ish traffic, use the boat! Ahh..... the beauty of Thailand, this mode of transport wouldn't be remotely possible in Singapore or my native Kuching.

A whiff of nostalgia along Chao Phraya River

The river aside, something else left an impression that day--a few small pieces of crispy toasted bread. Friends from Singapore, it's not Ya Kun Kaya Toast ok? As much as I admire the owners of Ya Kun for fusing their tradition with flashes of modern brilliance and in turn transforming their business into the current mini-empire, I can't help but take my hat off to those who do everything to hold on tight to their original craft.

Tha Prachan's famous sugar butter cracker, with a garlicky variant as well
Back to the story, Wendy, Nueng and I were strolling through the streets near Tha Prachan (I personally was a little surprised at Thai people's love for Buddhist amulets) when we spotted an old corner shoplot with a long queue. True to the Singapore spirit, Wendy jumped into the queue before Neung started telling us about this old stall, which has been making butter sugar crackers the same way for goodness-knows how many years, selling it at the same price as well-20baht per pack (the same pack as the picture above) amidst the many recessions and of course, the unceasing annual inflation.

The 2 lovely ladies, but one should look at the lady in the background to know how hot it is

Slicing the home-made bread and applying butter like a machine

Before baking till crisp in this furnace, which the poor customers need queue in front of

This is where everything bottlenecks, the packers were extremely slow in comparison to their counterparts
To ensure the queue moves, every customer can only buy a maximum of 20 packs!

On a side note, I feel inspired to teach all my readers to read some Thai, especially when this word is so close to my heart. So here goes....

Ah.... Roy (low tone)....... this word means delicious
After this trip, I no longer wonder why business owners don't necessarily want to embrace new techniques to make things easier for everyone. At the end of the day, product quality must be the focus and they are doing whatever they can to preserve the priceless originality of their creations. Consequently, they might not have achieved their potential in terms of wealth, but I am sure they are satisfied enough with what they have and who are we to knock them? Those who just can't stand queueing in front of a giant oven, you are more than welcome to munch some Kaya Toast over a cup of black coffee under the comfort of air-conditioning at Ya Kun. I, for one, prefer to stand and watch the masters at work here in Tha Prachan before this art disappears.

Thank you Nueng, for showing me again what Thai hospitality really means. I am delighted that you got your dream job and will be staying in Bangkok!

Where are we going next?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, really have to thank Nueng for the wonderful hospitality! - Wendy


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