How Thailand does fast food: stop off at a roadside Fishing Park during your travels
There were moments during my recent Thailand golf trip that I had to remind myself that it’s the United States that is supposed to be the developed, happy, first world nation.
This was especially true flying from Bangkok to Los Angeles. Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, like most of Asia’s airports (you don’t know how bad you have it in 90% of America’s airports until you fly around Asia) is a marvel both architecturally and logistically. It should be, considering it took 50 years to build.
Then our flight landed in LAX, half under construction, inoperable escalators, confusing signs and their arcane, painfully slow, inter-terminal bus system. Then there is the added treat of having to navigate through the charity solicitors the airport is notorious for (just watch Airplane!).
There’s a time and place for charity, and it’s not when you walk off a 12-hour flight and are trying to figure out which terminal your connecting flight is in and you’re lugging all your baggage behind you. Come to think of it, I’ve been solicited for money more at LAX than my entire time in Thailand.
Thailand is a third world country, but I’d have a pretty hard time calling it “poor.” Many live in modest housing but few are unemployed. I could count all the beggars I saw on city streets throughout the week on one hand. I’m not saying Americans should turn in their air conditioned homes for open-air shacks along a river, or trade in our Honda Accords for a moped. I’m just saying the Thai way of life puts things in perspective. I understand why so many westerners ditch the rat race and relocate here at least part time.
Something else I’m envious about is how Thailand does fast food. In the western world, we’re used to finding the usual suspects off a highway exit: McDonalds, Subway, Wendy’s (okay, I kinda love Wendy’s). Thailand roadside eateries are different. We stopped off at a couple, and one was an informal, outdoor eatery called simply “Fishing Park” between Bangkok and Hua Hin. It’s signage was little more than a weathered Coca-Cola marquee that had to be at least twenty years old.
It was empty when we pulled up, and the staff there (it looked like they were family but I can’t be sure) instantly emerged and gave us the five-star treatment. Beers were never more than half empty and the food just kept rolling out, from fish soup to calamari, some spicy chili and curry dishes. The menu was entirely in Thai, nothing bilingual, so it was good we had some Thais with us in the group to ensure we didn’t order anything too weird.
All told, we were served what felt like six courses in less than an hour, had a couple beers a head, and walked out about $5 lighter per person.
If you’re on foot, stop on a street in Bangkok or Pattaya and you can have a stir fry whipped up in a couple minutes for about $1, and it’s good stuff.
But I suppose a quick $5 Big Mac meal here in the ‘ol Land of Big PX is good too.
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