Bangkok, Thailand is a world-renown destination attracting rural Thais and foreign tourists. “Khun Tip” migrated to Bangkok to better her economic prospects. She sells food on the main walkway of her slum and feeds residents, who often live without indoor plumbing or kitchen facilities. This ethnographic documentary records an intimate portrayal of Khun Tip’s daily struggles to make a living. The video’s observational approach immerses the audience into the hidden alley-ways of Bangkok’s labyrinth -like slums relying on natural light and sound. The featured vendor’s candor and the access given to Esara, who filmed family members from the moment they got out of bed, emphasizes the project’s origins in anthropological fieldwork. Esara has long-term ties with the slum community and at the time of filming was living in the slum.
Pilapa Esara is a cultural anthropologist of Thai heritage. She started filming the featured slum on hi-8 tape in 1999, followed by intermittent periods of fieldwork continuing through 2009. She owes many hearty and filling meals to the slum’s street sellers, who taught her that in Bangkok, the vendor (not the customer) knows best.