ThailandStreet vendors in Bangkok are considered CIA agents, always present first at the protest scene.
The protest groups often kept the location a last-minute secret in an attempt to bypass the Thai government. However, they quickly realized that they were usually second at the scene, after street vendors set up food vans, preparing for a busy evening.
Rattapol Sukpa, a Bangkok-based butcher, said to catch the trend by following Facebook for hints about the latest protest spots and regularly contacting other street vendors to spread the word.
“I used to sell very well in the past, but it sold out faster at the protest sites,” the 19-year-old said as he set up a stand near Victory Monument.
Business has expanded since the protests began in July, when street vendors became a regular sideline of the protests. A post calling on people to protest at a new location on October 22 contained photos of street vendors with the caption “Get the CIA there first”, referring to the US Central Intelligence Agency.
The protest movement helps Rattapol better balance work and life, allowing him to sell out before 20 o’clock instead of midnight as usual. In addition to calling for a change in the current state of Thailand, such as asking Prime Minister Prayut to resign, drafting a constitution and reforming the monarchy, the demonstrations also provide a rich culinary festival.
Sour pork and sausage rice balls, a specialty of Thailand’s northeastern provinces, hung like a beaded necklace on a peddler’s stroller, ready to be fried and served with cabbage in plastic bags. Sausage sandwiches, soups, cold drinks, fruit and meat skewers are also on the menu.
Some street vendors also carry a motorcycle stovetop, making it easier to get to the gathering spots. Anucha Noipan, a fried chicken seller who typically makes $ 97 a day, says it makes money faster to sell food to the crowd.
“From day-to-day sales at the protest sites, my income has doubled to 192 dollars a day,” the 21-year-old said.
Having just joined the peddlers team after quitting as a rubber worker, Anucha said he agreed to the movement’s request, claiming he wouldn’t sell his fried chicken at rival events, who belong to royal side.
“I have a different political view from the Yellow Vests,” Anucha said, referring to the term for monarchy supporters. Tensions increased last week when police fired tornadoes at protesters in Bangkok’s central shopping district, prompting Thai opposition.
While stirring the chicken thighs in a frying pan, Nattapol Sai-ngarm said he was fully aware of all the risks involved in doing business in this environment. But the economic downturn caused by Covid-19 left him with no other choice.
“I used to be very scared” when I saw the police appear in the protest, but now “I come here every day so I am used to it,” Nattapol said.
Hong Hanh (Follow AFP)