Noi works this corner of the Muslim market. Her soup stand is attached to a motorbike. Very compact. I bargain the price down from 60 to 30 baht. It’s the price she charged a Thai man. Noi says poor people have a heart of gold. She tells me she is 60 years old and tired. She drives an hour to setup her stand at midday. She leaves at 8pm. I order two bowls.
Noi’s friend, Dang, the banana lady, is chatting with her. The Chief Editor is on a bird and banana watch across the road. “From Australia” she tells the owner of a bird shop, a Chinese Thai. They were budgies, colourful. ” He stopped being so wary. He let me take pictures of other birds.”
The Chief Editor’s taking pictures of the street framed by Dang’s bananas. Noi comments about it. Dang gave the Chief Editor some bananas. They were offered genuinely. She didn’t try it on like Noi had. Chief Editor is getting on with Noi, and asking her about her cooking secrets.
They seem to understand each other. Noi runs a three ring soup pot. She makes the red paste that goes in this section with pork and turnip and onions, in another section she’s cooked the pork in herb water. Tamarind is in it, so is coriander. The small section is for cooking fish balls and leafy green vegetables. We give 20 baht to the Banana lady’s bird. They are doing it tough down here.
Around the corner the daughter can’t cut up our watermelon. She can only wash the knife. The Chief Editor sets to work. A motorbike taxi driver comes to help, then the stall’s matriarch returns. She does the cutting. I’m carrying three kilos of watermelon as we pass a goldshop. “I think that’s the gold shop that was bombed,” the Chief Editor says. Around the corner I see the Asia Hotel. That’s a hotel that was bombed also.
We find a cafe, near the main road. The Chief Editor stands out like a white mouse in the brown ones. We are apprehensive about having a coffee here. They serve us Moccona coffee. Across the road an old steam train is on display. The Kolok railway station is behind a high fence.
There’s no need to be a worry wart.