Although walking down the street in Bangkok you couldn’t forget you’re in Thailand, it also feels like it just wouldn’t be Bangkok without 7-11. They’re everywhere. There are five within a few hundred metres of our apartment, and I’d say we’re a little further away from a 7-11 than you would be on average in Bangkok. According to Wikipedia, there are only a few hundred more 7-11’s in the USA than in Thailand, and Bangkok alone has over 3,000 of them.
Not only does it seem like they’re everywhere, it also seems like you can buy anything – steam buns, beer, spirits, stationery, hot dogs and cds, let alone the usual mix of drinks and snack food. It’s where we go to pay our power bill, and when phone credit is running low 7-11 is there to help us out. (It sure doesn’t hurt that there’s usually someone out the front of the store selling noodles or satay sticks – possibly the best complement to paying the bills!)
Unfortunately the first few visits to a 7-11 can lead to a bit of environmental shock, as everything comes with at least one plastic bag – whether you’re buying a bunch of steam buns or just a bottle of water (in which case you’ll also get a couple of straws, each in their own plastic cover). Apparently, this is something the local management company is working on, but, suffice to say that change is a gradual process.
On the plus side though, prices for most things are quite similar to the supermarket, skipping the usual 2x convenience store markup that we’ve been used to, and making it easy to justify a pit stop in the air-con on a hot afternoon – although it’s not just the local humans that have figured this out!