In Thailand, if you sit in one place long enough you will see all types of food vendors and hawkers pushing their carts and selling their food. One of my personal favourites are the ice cream vendors who are always a welcome sight on a hot day or after a spicy meal. The cost of an ice-cream (pronounced in Thai as ‘icer-creem’) may vary depending on your location, but a typical price is 10 Baht. Look out for the hawkers pushing their carts with big umbrellas and a large silver urn. Some will play a tune whilst others simply ring a bell to alert potential customers to their presence.
Unlike Western varieties, the typical Thai ice cream you can buy from a street vendor is made from coconut milk giving it a lighter texture and flavour. Many Thai people like to eat their ice cream as a sandwich so don’t be surprised when you see a vendor with bread and rolls on his or her cart. If the idea of an ice cream sandwich doesn’t appeal, you can opt for a cone or a plastic cup. Vendors have different recipes and styles, but typically you may be offered the option of a scoop of sticky rice (‘khao niao’) which is then topped up with scoops of ice cream. If you want, condensed milk may be added as well as some chopped nuts and strawberry or chocolate sauce. Don’t worry if you can’t speak Thai because pointing and smiling will do the trick. If you tell the vendor the ice cream is “aroy” with a thumbs-up you’ll be sure to get an appreciative smile in return.
You may also see carts or stalls advertising ‘ancient ice cream’. These are less common, but they sell a traditional style of ice cream known as ‘ice cream boran’. More like a sorbet than an ice cream you would get in the West, these are very refreshing and usually come in a variety of flavours including lime/lemon, orange, mango, strawberry and durian. The ice cream is frozen around a stick and served in a small paper cone. I took the photo on the right at one of the ‘ancient ice cream’ stalls located at Chiang Mai’s Sunday Walking Street Market.