Most times there will be a language barrier but this shouldn’t stop you from trying food carts. At first, we would move cautiously up to the food cart, looking at each other, whispering ‘do you think it’s safe to eat? What is that?’ and then point to something asking ‘how much?’ If you do ask how much, it may cause the street vendor to stop, think, and decide to tell you an inflated price.
We now confidently walk up to the cart, have a look, put two fingers up, nod, hold out some cash, and hope for change. Just pretend you know what you’re doing!
At times you will need to know how much something is. It helps if you learn how to say ‘how much?’ in the language of the country. The locals usually appreciate the effort you put in, and will smile, laugh at you (good-naturedly), and are always willing to help. It’s also a good idea to learn the basic words for ‘cow,’ ‘pig,’ and ‘chicken’ so that you kinda know what you’re going to get!
Eating at food carts has changed our way of traveling completely. Food at street carts are at a fraction of the price of restaurants, and it’s often nice to sit somewhere outside and eat a leg of chicken and sticky rice overlooking a rice field.
You might even get the chance to unintentionally eat a chicken foetus egg (a balut) like Lionel!
We have been in Thailand for about 9 months and the street food is the best. As you say people need not worry about the language just try most vendors are lovely people and happy to help.
This is really great information for all the travelers. You must write similar stuff for tourist Visiting Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
Steve Cole http://www.gotourister.com/