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Bangkok Travelbug Oct 2020 Khlong Sip Song 100-year-old Market
September 30, 2020
The Khlong Sip Song* 100-year-old Market is located on the southern banks of the Khlong Hok Wa Sai Lang** in Lum Luk Ka, Pathum Thani. One of the two remaining shops in this market is 114 years old. This gives an indication of the age of this market.
*Khlong – canal, sip song – twelve, Canal 12
Hok – six, wa – a Thai unit of length of 2 metres, hok wa – 12 metres (the width of the canal),
Sai lang – this canal that's further down (south), probably because there's another parallel canal flowing 12 km to the north.
Khlong Hok Wa Sai Lang
We walked down this quiet alley under a light drizzle and soon reached the dark entrance to a covered alley which led to the market. It was like walking into a tunnel.
The alley leading to the market
Dark entrance to the market
Unfortunately, like many of the canal side markets on the outskirts of Bangkok, this market has been abandoned and has fallen into a state of disrepair.
The alley with many shuttered shops
There are a number of reasons contributing to the demise of these markets. Firstly, the development of roads has virtually put an end to water-borne traffic. But that's not a sufficiently compelling reason. This market isn’t very far away from the main road.
Another reason is that the younger generation have no wish to continue with what their forefathers have been doing. The younger people prefer to pursue their studies and seek better jobs in the cities.
During our visit, we saw mostly elderly people and young children, hardly anyone in their 20s to 40s. There are a few elderly residents still staying on, a couple of them were seen sitting outside their homes. Most of the shops were shuttered, some were complete wrecks.
More shuttered shops
Houses in a dilapidated state and one that's a total wreck
The entire market consists of two shops that were still functioning and a stall selling som tam (papaya salad) and barbecued chicken.
One of the two remaining shops, this one sells sweets, crackers and other items for home use
There's a third reason; many of these markets lack people with the drive to innovate new attractions, promote the market and reenergise the whole place. I guess its vicious cycle, with the younger people gone, who's going to do it?
One shop still had a set of faded photographs stuck to its locked doors, preserving faded memories of better days?
Tia Yong Li Coffee Shop
It was a refreshing change when we arrived at the Tia Yong Li Coffee Shop at the end of the alley, the last shop in Khlong Sip Song 100-year-old Market. This shop has been operating for the last 114 years!
Tia Yong Li* Coffee Shop
The surname Tia is Zhang in Mandarin and Teo in Hokien (Fujian). Apparently the Teochews in Thailand pronounce the surname as Tia.
It serves coffee, tea and other hot beverages like Ovaltine at very cheap prices. Our tea and coffee without milk cost 10 baht each! Two half boiled eggs done to perfection and served in a glass cost 15 baht. Just whip the eggs up and toss them down the hatch.
Coffee, tea and half boiled eggs
The cheap prices are possible because the rent, the main cost component, for the shop is just 500 baht per month! Unheard of in many other places.
This coffee shop has a very traditional setting; round marble top tables, wooden stools, just like the coffee shops of old when I was a boy. The tea pot used to serve the tea I ordered is something I haven't seen for years.
Table and chairs in the coffee shop
Traditional tea pot
The lady selling som tam in a stall just opposite the coffee shop provided the rest of the nourishment; som tam (papaya salad) for 30 baht and barbecued chicken (5 baht per stick).
Som tam and barbecued chicken
In 2018, Tia Yong Li was awarded a certificate by the Ministry of Culture for participating in the annual campaign to promote traditional delicacies by shops in the 100-year-old category. Back then the shop was already 112 years old.
Award from the Ministry of Culture
Tia Yong Li is run by Pa (Aunt) and her brother. They took over the operation of the coffee shop from their father.
Pa and her brother manning the coffee counter
Lung (uncle) brewing coffee the traditional way with coffee bags
Preserving a family tradition
In this family photo of her siblings, Pa is on the extreme left in the photo. Her brother who is helping her in the shop is third from the left.
Old family photo of the siblings
Passing on a legacy from father (left) to son (right)
The family photos on the walls of the shop tell the rest of the story. Most if not all her other family members went for further studies, graduated, married and settled somewhere else. Pa is in her 70s today, her elder siblings will be in their 80s or even 90s. Can this family tradition be preserved?
Other family heirlooms on display are old and invaluable collectors' items; an old kerosene lamp, lottery numbers written on a blackboard, old Ovaltine cans, an old transistor radio and an abacus. It will be difficult to find such items nowadays.
Family wedding photos (top) – note the abacus (bottom left) and old transistor radio (bottom right)
Photo of the community (top), Ovaltine cans (top shelf), Coca Cola bottles and glasses (second shelf)
Old kerosene lamp (top), winning lottery numbers on blackboard** (below)
These are the results of the lottery draw on 16 September 2020, (column on the left). The Government lottery has its draws on the 1st and 16th of every month.
The numbers on the top line, 244083 are the winning numbers for jackpot of 6,000,000 baht.
If the first three digits of your ticket number are 220 or 127 (see next line) you win a consolation of 4,000 baht
If the last three digits of your lottery ticket number are 853 or 623 you win 4,000 baht.
Lastly if the last two numbers of your lottery ticket number are 57, you win 2,000 baht.
In the old days, Chinese immigrants to Thailand got their news about China from newspapers pinned to the walls of coffee shops, bookshops or newspaper shops. The same applied to the lottery results.
The founders of Tia Yong Li wrote the winning lottery numbers on a blackboard instead. Their descendants have continued with this tradition.
Tia Yong Li Coffee Shop is the last shop in the alley before we come to Khong Sip Song. The coffee shop is at the junction of two canals, Khlong Hok Wa and Khlong Sip Song. There's a bridge across the canal leading to another part of the community.
The placid waters of Khlong Sip Song
Bridge across the Khlong Sip Song
Outside the coffee shop is a beautiful seating area shaded by bougainvillea and other hanging pots of plants, right at the junction of two canals. Just the place for a relaxing morning brew.
The beautiful light at the end of the tunnel
It was a real pleasure spending a Sunday morning visiting a quaint, old coffee shop in an old community that is slowly disappearing, to have a traditional breakfast of coffee or tea and half boiled eggs. I really do hope that Pa and her brother can find some family members to continue with this legacy.
Our thanks to Pa (Aunt) who runs the coffee shop with her brother for her hospitality and information about her family, shop and the market. Places like these are institutions and it will be a shame if they can't continue doing what they have been doing for the last 114 years.
Map to Khlong Sip Song 100-year-old Market
If the map doesn’t appear, click on this link
How to get to there
From Bangkok take highway 1 or Viphavadi-Rangit Road till you get to the northern edge of Don Muang Airport. Turn right into route 3312 (Lam Luk Ka Road).
Continue on route 3312 for about 26 km till you pass the Holy Family Church on your right, followed by Lam Luk Ka Hospital.
Turn right immediately after the hospital and continue till you get to a bridge. Cross the bridge and turn left at the first turning. Find a place to park and continue on foot to the Khlong Sip Song 100-year-old Market.
We visit a cactus farm and another canal side market in Sam Khok, Pathum Thani.
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