An essential element of Cool Footing in a new location is learning how to source food. Anyone who has lived in another world will tell you that adventuring to a new supermarket can be a daunting experience. Suddenly you are illiterate and must rely on pictures and guess work.
You won’t find large supermarkets you’d find in Western countries here. There are small super markets that have some western foods, of these Rimping and Tops are good. Although the chicken in Tops is always an odd orange colour. In its favour though they have a good bakery and a salad bar for a cheap meal.
These shops are also good places to find experienced expats to ask questions of if you need any inside info. Most are friendly and helpful.
Any western foods will be quite expensive, a tin of white beans costs 59BHT (around $AUD 2.50), for example. Beef is also expensive. It’s much cheaper to eat like local as much as possible, although I haven’t pushed to envelope on this one all the way out to include eel, pig head or chicken tendons yet. I’ll have to build to those. For now, an unadventurous chicken breast will set you back 32BHT (around $AUD1.45) from Rimping.
Another option is Makro, but this is really a bulk buying option and not suitable for just 2 people. Also, it smells like dirty nappy.
Of course, there’s always the ubiquitous convenience stores, but there not much good for ‘proper’ food, just water, beer and ice creams. They’re also handy for travel size toiletries. These items are the same price not matter where you buy them, the supermarket and 7-11 have the same prices.
There are food halls in big shopping centres, like Central Festival, but they can be pricey and hard to get to.
The final word on the supermarkets is to your inner eco-warrior. There’s no ban on plastic bags or straws here. In fact, plastic and its use is embraced. Unnecessary packaging is in debate in many countries, but here even two carrots are packaged up in layers of glad wrap and straws are doled out by the hand full when you buy Yakult.
Vegetables are much cheaper if you go to a market. The best is Mueng Mai. It is a sprawling open-air affair that operates 24 hours a day as farmers from the surrounding areas bring in their produce when it’s ready to sell. It is also a vibrant cultural experience with all the sounds, smells and sights.