Bulldozers demolished what was left of the condemned, abandoned buildings, these battered relics of a Bangkok priced out and put down. Soon after the concrete rubble would be cleared and a new night market, built on a solid foundation of cynicism, would move in.
It’s what the tourists wanted, after all, thought the market’s developer. They want to shop, and they want to eat, and they want a massage, and what better place to provide all of it than this prime piece of under-utilized Phetchaburi Road real estate, across from the Manhattan condominiums, just a few blocks from Hotel Novotel Bangkok Platinum Pratunam, the Platinum Fashion Mall, and Palladium World.
More malls and more luxury condos were slated for development in the area, too, but what Pratunam lacked—what all those tourists and all those expats wanted—was a safe, sanitized night market.
They wanted an authentic Thai night market, full of Thai food and seafood and handcrafted Thai products and trendy street fashion and cheap massages, all under one roof, oh how the tourists wanted and needed such a thing. For too long this prime piece of real estate had been wasted by locally owned hole-in-the-wall shops, bars, and restaurants. The shophouse apartments were dingy and the tenants were poor, and the developer knew that opportunity knocked.
“It will be the ultimate nightlife shopping experience,” said the developer to his board of investors, all swinging dicks and wagging tongues. He cited Pratunam tourism trends—up, up, and up—and he cited with twinkling eyes the occupancy rates of nearby hotels. He promised that stalls at his nightlife market would rent at premium prices, and that even so demand would exceed availability, because there were no night markets in Pratunam, and that’s what the tourists wanted, and there was money to be made.
“Tourism is up. The night market will be good for the local Thai people, and it will be good for us,” he said. Everybody would be happy on this prime piece of real estate.
And so the market, which the developer dubbed Sirinda Night, was built. Open daily until 2 am, with space for 250+ vendors, it popped up in the heart of bustling Pratunam, a short walk from Central World and Central Chidlom and Central Embassy and Platinum Fashion Mall and Siam Paragon and Gaysorn and Zen and Isetan and Palladium World and Pratunam Market and Siam Center and Siam Discovery.
The tourists flocked to the market, as the developer knew they would, and Thai vendors clamored for space that was not available, as he knew they would.
The authentic Thai restaurants, selling foods marked up just enough so that the tourists wouldn’t flinch—it was still cheap, after all—thrived.
The market’s lively Thai food court, a showcase for local food vendors, some of whom had once hawked their specialties every night in front of the old, ugly, forgotten buildings, became a nightlife destination in its own right.
The glass-enclosed stalls, numbered into the two hundreds, tantalizing with displays of the trendy-and-cheap street fashions for which Bangkok had become so synonymous, did robust business.
The massage parlor couldn’t flip customers fast enough.
Yes, the developer’s plan to eradicate the eye sores from up-and-coming Pratunam and give the tourists what they wanted had worked. He was right, and he was not done yet.
Across the street from Sirinda Night, next to the Manhattan condominimums, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, bars, and apartments had for too long squandered a prime piece of real estate. The buildings were rundown and tattered, and the residents were poor, but the visionary developer looked beyond the aged facades and the poverty and saw a luxury, mixed-use condominium forty stories tall.
Perched on the banks of Khlong Saen Saeb, the condominium would offer “the ultimate riverside luxury lifestyle,” said the developer. The board of swinging dicks was all ears.
Sirinda Night is located on Phetchaburi Road in Bangkok.