Transcript (video is also included below)
News announcer: And with its beautiful temples and scenic sights, Thailand is sometimes called a tourists’ paradise. But a unique attraction has been gaining popularity by giving visitors a taste of life that most people never get to see.
NHK World Dhra Dhirakaosal has the details.
Dhra Dhirakaosal (news reporter): These tourists are being guided through the endless labyrinth that is called Klong Toey slum, Bangkok’s largest shanty town. Tens of thousands of the city’s poor live and work in the slum, an area normally associated with drugs and crime.
But this stark community is also home to Cooking with Poo, a cooking school that has recently become a popular tourist attraction.
Poo: “This here’s a chili. For Thai people, four or five chili’s for one person…”
Dhra Dhirakaosal (news reporter): Poo is the name of the school’s owner. For 30 dollars, they get fresh ingredients and lessons on how to cook traditional Thai dishes. They also learn Poo’s secrets to enhancing the food’s flavors. Traditional dishes such as Thom Yum, Green Curry, and Thom Gha Gai, are on the menu.
The students enjoy mastering the cooking but they also get to see a side of Thailand often hidden from view. The real lives of people left behind by the country’s economic growth.
Lewis Chan (tourist): “I’m learning cooking in a slum. That’s the part that we normally don’t get to see when we come here as a tourist. You know and we want to see how the poor Thai workers, how they live and how they help themselves and make a living.”
Julien Nelissen (tourist): “Coming here was fabulous. But the best part is when you, when you come in, you see what you’re trying to help. So I think it’s a great place to cook.”
Dhra Dhirakaosal (news reporter): Poo was born and raised in the slum. She used to struggle to make ends meet, earning at most 6 dollars a day selling home-cooked meals to her neighbors.
In 2007, an Australian missionary foundation that helps residents of the slum develop sustainable micro businesses encouraged her to open her cooking school.
The school has been a success, attracting more tourists which generates income for neighborhood residents and educates visitors about poverty.
Poo: “We’ve been able to hire some other residents of the slum, which helps more people earn money. And that means we can accept more customers and generate more money.”
Dhra Dhirakaosal (news reporter): It isn’t luxurious or even beautiful but for tourists, this trip into Bangkok’s underprivileged world is an experience they’ll never forget.
Dhra Dhirakaosal, NHK World Bangkok.