The food hawker zone at our hospital
Yesterday, I talked about the small food hawker cart convoy that was moving up my street to get positioned for the lunch time crowd. Today, I want to tell you about the food vendors on the street where our main hospital is located. We have a pretty big presence in our neighbourhood. There is, in addition to our acute care hospital, a large school building, a very large outpatient clinic and a series of other, smaller, facilities. We essentially operate a campus.
We also have, on the campus, three different restaurants, a 7-11 and a coffee shop. Two of the restaurants are mainly for staff and are air conditioned and one is a commercial restaurant, also air conditioned. All of these services are pretty popular. But this is Bangkok and locals love their street food. So notwithstanding all of the great air conditioned facilities in our buildings, food hawkers line the street just outside of our hospital to serve traditional street food. And during every lunch hour, they are packed with people eating under umbrellas and enjoying the local fare.
Staff members from our hospital, patients, their families, workers from adjacent offices and factories all come to eat on the street, even though they can have a great meal in air conditioned comfort for not much more money. Street food is special here in Bangkok and one hopes it never disappears, as it’s such an important part of the culture. It’s also a critical part of the economy, supporting tens of thousands of people, in addition to feeding those who cannot afford expensive meals.
Foreigners have asked my why we allow all of these food hawkers to blatantly compete with our own restaurants. After all, we own much of the land on which they set their carts. The answer I always give is that these food vendors enrich the neighbourhood. They add value and colour. Their presence says that our organization supports the community. But most importantly, you can’t beat great street food served by amazing characters, many of whom seem to have stepped right out of some historical novel – like the lady in the last slide with her single table of bananas.
Street food prevails in Bangkok. It’s one of the contributors to the character of the city and to our health and eduaction facilities.