Before protesters, press, and the police show up at protest venues in Bangkok, street food sellers have have consistently arrived earlier than any other group at the locations.
CIA” street food vendors at protests
The anti-government protests have been going on since July, with masses demanding the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
However, fried chicken, fishball, and coconut ice cream stall vendors have recently taken the limelight after protesters noticed how prompt street food vendors would arrive at demonstration venues, nearly as soon as they are announced.
They have even earned the nickname “CIA” among protesters, for their abilities to track the next protest location at lightning speed, usually by following updates from protest groups and pro-democracy social media, according to Reuters.
Naming their mobile messaging chat group “CIA Mobile Fishballs for Protests”, the street sellers are prepared to move anytime to a new location once they receive a notification of where the next demonstration is held.
The protest venues are announced at the last minute to shake off police and authorities.
“We have to follow the news very closely,” said one of the street sellers.
According to Thai-English news site Khaosad, food vendors were found setting up at the protest site on Oct. 19 minutes after the announcement was made.
Protests a boon for street food vendors
The business at protest locations appear to be bustling as well, with some food vendors claiming to earn as much as 50 per cent more profit than normal days.
“I’m usually one of the first people here. I follow the main page, Free Youth, and then head there immediately,” a fried chicken seller said. “I have already prepared all the food since morning.”
A fishball seller at the protests also agreed that the protests were a boon for his stall.
“I completely ran out,” he told Khaosad. “Normally, I never do. So this is giving me a lot of profit.”
However, the protest is not only a source of income for some of these street food vendors.
“This cart doesn’t sell to soldiers and police. Prayuth get out,” said the sign on the cart of a pop drink seller at the protest, reported Reuters.
“I’m both here to sell and to support the protesters. I hate Prayuth very much,” the drink seller said.
He told Reuters that his income fell from 2000 baht (S$87) a day to 700 (S$30) baht daily during Prayuth’s rule. At protests, he earns around 1,000 baht (S$43) per day.
By : Julia Yeo – Mothership.sg