Governor stays execution of Soi 38 food scene

Those hungry for a chance to say goodbye to Soi 38’s food scene haven’t missed their chance.

Three days after a deadline for the vendors to clear out, it was business as usual yesterday evening with pots of pork stewing for the night’s customers after City Hall gave them a reprieve.

“Even factory workers get paid three-month severance before they are asked to leave,” pork vendor Pailin Jamsai said. “We only get paid daily, so why don’t you give us some time?”

Pailin, along with pork-stewer Somboon Chatcharoenmongkol and satay-griller Pornthip Saetun, recently went to the Khlong Toei District Office to represent the vendors and appeal for an extension.

Somboon Chatcharoenmongkol and her red pork and crispy pork belly in rice stall.

After district officials rejected their appeal, they took it straight to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, who instructed the district head to reconsider their case.

That intervention won approval, and now the renowned street food scene will continue for some months.

Under the compromise, the sidewalk stalls on east side of the soi must close by Sept. 1. The shophouse restaurants on the west side will have another nine months and must close for good by March 1.

It’s those shophouses which are slated for demolition to make way for new condominiums. After the death late last year of the landowner, the family decided to sell the property to developer Sansiri.

So that gives fans of the popular spot in the shadow of BTS Thong Lo some time to enjoy eating there.

Pork vendor Pailin Jamsai was among representives who won an extension from the city for Soi 38 vendors after the land was sold to a developer.

 

But after that? Life will go on elsewhere, but the family will split up.

The Gateway Ekamai shopping mall has invited a dozen of the sidewalk vendors to set up next outside the building next to the mall on Soi Sukhumvit 42. Others will move into space offered in a carpark at nearby Sutti Mansion on soi 38, but few seemed interested in that location. Some were concerned about how the landowner might raise their rents after they move.

Some vendors are still without a plan, with some saying they would relocate their businesses.

“If I can’t be here, I want to restart again at home, which is nearby here,” Somboon Chatcharoenmongkol said as smoke rose from her barbecued red pork. “I don’t want to move somewhere else, firstly, because when we sell better, they will put pressure on us by raising the rent.”

She added that she’s also worried about moving to a new spot only for the city to tell him to leave again.

Still others accepted their fate and hoped local loyalty and the worldwide notoriety of their food, which appears in most tourist travel guides, will mean continued success.

A kao lao vendor who identified himself only as Surachai was pretty chill about the whole thing.

“I will leave the signboard and my phone number up here, so you guys can follow if it’s not too far away,” he said.

The enigmatic kao lao vendor known only as “Surachai.”

Pornthip Saetun sells grilled satay


 

Related:

So long, Sukhumvit 38, and thanks for all the street food

 

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