Laab Langsuan, the restaurant in the RED ZONE

12 Jun

The past few month had been very crazy here in Bangkok, the rally,  riot, crack down, and now reconciliation. During that time, many restaurants in the area known as the “RED ZONE” were forced to shut down. I have heard of this little E-SAN restaurant for years and was hoping to try it one day when I came across it while on location for news coverage just three days after the crack down.

This restaurant is ” Laab Lang Suan” , hidden in Soi Mahadlek Luang I on Rajdamri Road. When we were there trying to take shot cuts from Langsuan road to go through Rajprasong Intersection to Siam Square, we had to go through this little street, where we got stopped by the military at the end of Mahadlek Luang I.

After about ten minutes wait, a young solder told us that it’s a no-go zone. We decided to head back to the little street and found a group of  people  young and old, men and women lazily observing passer by, sometimes telling those people  that;

” You can’t go there, there’s bombs exploding”

We were aware of the bombs story, but haven’t heard anything.  While we were out, trying to figure out how we could get to Siam Square, colleagues at other places were constantly in contact. as we heard that the bombs were found where they were.  ..There were no bombs explosion sound …

Back to those group of people, I noticed a woman in her 40s sitting amongst a young girl and a man. We smiled at each other.  She probably wondered why we were there, but the equipments we were carrying probably gave her the answer already. She was asking if we needed water, we politely declined.  I asked her if she live in the area.  She pointed out at the restaurant opposite where she was sitting, ” I’m working there”

P’ Waaw is a cook and a co-owner of  Laab Langsuan, the E-San restaurant that had been opened for more than 30 years in the middle of the city.  She’s been working there since she was thirteen and married to the owner’s son.

She said that the restaurant was doing very well until the “Red” as she chose to call the protesters came.  I won’t go into details about what she told me about the red, but many weeks of living in constant fear.. I still could hear her voice trembling.  The restaurant that used to do so well, full of businessmen and tourists had to temporary shut down,  no customers, no access to get out.

” How did you survive?”  I asked, curious about how she would pay her employees who live with her

” I had to tell my employee that we just have to help each other. I have no money to pay them, but I said, you still have and drink”  she said as she poured us Coke from a big 2 litres bottle and handed to us.

” We just have to eat together and live together like family. I still don’t know how to pay my children’s school fee”

I just realized that the new  school term was about to start in a week.  I was interviewing her for a news piece for a foreign news company.  It was such a contrast when, as we about to leave, I asked if I could take a photo of her for my blog.  She told me that there were so many tourists and TV crew that came to the restaurant…but that day.. we were the only group of visitor.

It will take a while for her and the restaurant to cover the cost of losses during the protest. I’m planning to visit her again, she might or might not remember me, the restaurant might once again be busy. I would be just happy to see the restaurant becoming alive again.

Laab Langsuan

Open daily from 11.00-21.00 pm (close on Sunday)

Tel : 0-2252-6845

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