Photo Essay: Lard Yai Walking Street

In the Top 10 Thai Street Markets survey released by TripAdvisor in August 2013, Phuket made a small blip on the list with its weekend market on Chao Fah West Road, close to the island’s old town center. Call me spoiled, but meh, the goods on display tend to range from tourist tack to random rummage, with the very occasional gem making a guest appearance once in a while.

Flipping through one of the local dailies recently, a mention of a new walking street caught my eye. Lard Yai Walking Street, as it was to be called, would be situated on Thalang Road smack in the middle of Phuket old town, making its debut on 29 September, 2013. Historic surroundings flanked with centuries-old shophouses? One point. A project rep was also quoted as saying items for sale must be unique and not be from a factory. Two points. That’s all that is ever needed for me to hunt down a market.

The following Sunday coincided with the final day of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, so we scheduled it for the week after. Serendipitously, we found a parking spot close to the Phuket Road entrance, and set off on our wandering way.

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Plenty of photo-ops with the name of the walking street written in both English & Thai

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A helmet-wearing pug making use of the ready-to-pose photo backdrops

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The low-key vibe reminded me a bit of my favorite market in Thailand, the Sunday Walking Street in Chiang Mai

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Funky Street Performers

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Scenes from the street market (clockwise from top-right): Kids playing on a trampoline, men perched on plastic stools engrossed in a game of checkers, a lady having a streetside manicure, a child peers around his mother’s back as she minds her food stall

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The market is flanked on both sides with rows of historic Sino-Portuguese shophouses

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Hand woven hats

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A vendor sets up shop outside Kopitiam by Wilai – an intimate eatery with a nostalgic charm – displaying a selection of frames and sunnies for sale for approximately US$6.40 a pair

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business as usual for a shophouse restaurant

The newspaper article I read said half of the retail space is planned to be taken up with food, with the other half shared between clothes, souvenirs, and other knick knacks. Granted, the market was still in its infancy, but more than 50 percent was actually dedicated to food. Not that any of us were complaining,

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Food in action (from left to right): roti saimai (palm sugar candy floss wrapped in thin roti), freshly squeezed wheatgrass, and traditional cotton candy.

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Food on sticks (clockwise from top-left): Oversized meat balls, squid tentacles, mushrooms or sausage wrapped with bacon

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Grilled chicken – I’m not sure why they have the rubber chickens next to the real ones, but I like it

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food on wheels – this one’s selling cheeseburgers for THB50 (~US$1.60); the proprietor is quite proud of the wall-mounted newspaper clipping featuring his buns

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Coffee and drinks out of the side of a truck (presumably to wash down that burger)

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Food glorious food galore – gui chai (pan-fried chive dumplings, also with a bamboo shoot filling variation) are one of my all-time favorites

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Yam pla dook foo (crunchy catfish “fluff” topped with green mango, and in this case carrots, and drenched with a sour, spicy, and sweet sauce) for THB40 (~US$1.30) a serving

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For the sweet tooth (left to right): bowl of grass jelly topped with a pinch of brown sugar, and mango & sticky rice (with three sticky rice variations), the latter for approx. US$1.60

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If I wasn’t so stuffed, I would have been interested to try the juice of this “fak kao” fruit, reported to be a super fruit mega-packed with nutritional value and good for everything from your heart to blood sugar

Shopping Essentials:

What: Lard Yai Walking Street

Where: Thalang Road, Phuket Old Town

When: Every Sunday, from around 6 p.m. to midnight

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