Nang Loeng Market is located just off of Thanon Nakhorn Sawan in Rattanakosin, old Bangkok. It first opened in 1899, and was in use until several years ago when it was destroyed by a fire. After a few years of construction, the market was recently rebuilt, and probably looks better than ever, but doesn't really seem to have recovered. On the day I visited only about a quarter of the stalls were in use and I wouldn't describe the atmosphere as particularly vibrant. Maybe I came on a bad day? Despite this, there's still some interesting stuff to see (and eat), in particular the old-school snacks and treats that this market is known for.
My day began with Thai-style coffee and paa thong ko, Chinese-style doughnuts:
Like other areas in Old Bangkok, Nang Loeng is where you'll find lots of old dudes drinking coffee and chilling:
I wandered around the market, passing by grilled sticky rice:
a lady making rice porridge:
a kind of freshly-steamed rice noodle called khanom paak mor:
before happening upon a small alley:
This whole alley is part of a famous noodle shop called Rung Reuang. I ordered a bowl of kiaow naam, wonton soup:
My noodles were made by a shirtless guy of Chinese origin who, according to the literature on the walls, still makes his own noodles. The kiaow were pretty good, mostly because they contained an astonishing amount of crab meat, an ingredient lesser noodle stalls skimp on.
Nang Loeng Market is particularly known for its sweets, such as these sticky rice snacks:
a bunch of khanom:
and my new favourite, khanom bueang:
While I ate my khanom beuang, I sat down to talk to the maker-man:
He told me how he is one of the few people making these snacks the old way,
employing a batter that comes from thua thong ('golden beans', not sure what they're called in English) and rice, which he makes himself from scratch. The sweet ones (above) are filled with foy thong, sweetened egg yolk, and shredded coconut meat, while the savoury ones (shown in the first pic) are filled with a combination of shrimp, coconut meat, coriander roots and black pepper, all mashed up with a mortar and pestle.
This guy was born and raised in the Nang Loeng area, and told me stories about what it was like growing up there. He also told me where to find a movie theatre that was built in 1918! The theatre, called Chalerm Thani, was among Bangkok's first, and was used up until the 1990's, but today is used as a warehouse.
I thought this was a cool little corner of Bangkok with lots of potential. If more was done to revitalize the area, including perhaps inviting more vendors and touching up the 150 year-old row houses that surround the market, I think this could be a busy, vibrant market.