Bizarre Night Bazaar
The Roof! The Roof! Where did it go?
“Suan Lum Night Bazaar used to have a roof!”
I made the preceding statement due to my embarrassment about what happened to dozens of tourists Saturday night at Suan Lum Night Bazaar. The apologist….let me explain…….
Like many occasions past I took initiative and encouraged a group of visiting friends that a visit to Suan Lum Night Bazaar was in order. Onto the Suan Lum Night Bazaar we descended! As a six year resident of Thailand it has been my experience is that Suan Lum is usually a hit, home run, goal, ace, hole-in-one, etc. with visiting friends and family. Why? Where else can you find an open air food court chock-full of Thai food in the heart of Bangkok coupled with the belting of local singer/musicians (most of who would make Simon Cowell of American Idol fame cringe with their renditions of Western songs). This unique Night Bazaar (and soon to disappear) experience is supported by a sprawling market with a wide array of goods that the baht-pinching to well-healed tourist purchase.
We entered the complex and acquired our coupons necessary to purchase food and beer. My local expat friends helped my tourist friends to journey around the open-air food market and make food choices. For the newly arrived the Night Bazaar has an overwhelming selection of food and beer hawkers (both domestic and foreign). We took advantage of the foreign beer on tap and ordered a tower of German beer from a youthful waitress. Eventually, the tower of beer was delivered to our table accompanied by beer mugs and a smile (the smile directly proportional to a large tip my foreign friends provided). Happiness was evident as we ate our food and downed the beer. Suddenly, we felt the pitter-patter of rain! “No fear”, I thought. I’ve become accustomed to the retractable roof that protects the sprawling entertainment complex. I look up and see metal work void of its retractable vinyl roof. What? It’s disappeared? The massive retractable roof that has protected me in years past from the torrential downpour of rain has been ripped from its supporting beams. The resulting mayhem is hundreds of people scrambling for a few sheltered areas on the sides of the food court. Those that can’t find shelter poor out of the Bazaar into taxi cabs whom are happy for an unexpected 10:00 p.m. onslaught. I’m left with about sixteen people as we huddle under an umbrella made for five or six. The waitresses struggle to move our water-logged food and beer from the rain soaked tables to the sparse and overcrowded inner tables. As I point to the now non-existent roof and the fact that we would normally be protected I’m forced to paraphrase the following bits of an article I remember to my American friends as well as a group of newly acquired Singaporean friends:
Bangkok’s popular Suan Lum Night Bazaar is to finally close, with its hundreds of tenants moving out to make way for a mall and hotel complex (Central Group, which plans to build a new landmark tower and a complex, including world-class shopping facilities, offices and a hotel).
“It is the intention of Crown Property Bureau to comply with the court order and to carry out this order as stated,” said the Crown Property Bureau in a statement printed in Thai language newspapers.
Tenants refusing to leave could face “seizure, arrest or imprisonment,” warned the agency.
“What a shame!” my friends exclaimed in unison. “The last thing Thailand needs is another shopping mall and hotel!”
I have to agree. I’ve taken enough business classes and have read enough business related literature to realize that from a purely economic view a mall, tower and hotel complex might provide more baht per square footage to the Crown Property Bureau who will lease the property to Central Property Group. However, with an overabundance of shopping malls why destroy what is a unique open-air entertainment, food-court and market place experience in Central Bangkok.
From the mouth of a tourist, “The Suan Lum Night Bazaar now appears to be the best thing the Thais have come up with since Thai silk.”
What’s your opinion?