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Friday, November 23, 2007

The disappointments of travel: Burger King at the Night Market

Our first night in Chiang Mai we thought we’d hit the Night Market then grab some dinner from the local vendors who have stalls in the markets in the surrounding streets. While the Night Markets get a bit samey after a while, all pedaling the same cheap t-shirts, fake DVDs and Thai handicrafts, the wonderful thing about the food stalls in Thai markets is that there are always a couple of stands with something interesting that you won’t find in other parts of the country. One of the first things we noticed as we started our Night Market window-shopping, however, was a sign: ‘Burger King now at Night Market’. And then we noticed another. And another. The illuminated street signs for Burger King were everywhere. Could there be anything more depressing? Maybe those travelers suffering from Bangkok Belly might disagree, but we didn’t come to Chiang Mai to eat at Burger King. The same way that we didn’t come to Thailand to sip Guinness at Mary O’Shea’s. Why do some travelers feel that they can’t visit another country without the ‘comforts of home’? Would you rather refuel at Burger King or buy a tasty Thai snack from this woman?


Alexander Santillanes said...

I remember seeing those same signs when I was in Chiang Mai, illuminated all over town. I know it is certainly meant to appeal to tourists... but I also wonder if it appeals to Thai locals as well. Though locally made snacks are still paramount here, many people see the availability of 'International food' as a sign of cosmopolitanism, and more simply, a lot of people here like fast food burgers as much as Americans. The McDonalds near my house is always filled- and not with tourists.

Though of course, I'd rather have the tasty Thai snack. -X

Lara Dunston said...

You're referring to your McDonalds in Bangkok, right? You are probably right about city dwellers wanting the accoutrements of modernism, to be cosmopolitan, but I have to say we were relieved to NOT see McDonalds or Burger King anywhere at all in the south of Thailand. I must admit, however, that we weren't relieved at the time, as we were spending long hours on the road, we were starving, we'd both had the Bangkok Belly and didn't want to risk getting sick again, so we would have killed for a simple toasted sandwich, or - dare I say it - cheeseburger! The Chiang Mai Burger King, being in the heart of the Night Market street, was a tourist-only affair - a shame. I'm with you, I'd much rather eat some Khao Lahm (sticky rice in hollow bamboo) any day!