Bangkok is dying

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Bangkok is dying

Many beautiful and historic buildings will soon be gone. Old Mahakan communities are being ripped apart. Street markets are disappearing. The 47-year-old Dusit Thani will be knocked down next year. Whole neighbourhoods are being destroyed so new condos can be built.

All cities change and develop, and they should. London used to be — a few hundred years ago — a dirty, dangerous and disease-ridden city. It still is (not really!) but it has grown and become more modern while still protecting its historic buildings.

Bangkok’s temples are beautiful, historic and important to the culture of the city, but so are the old houses, cinemas and hotels. To get rid of them so we can have more malls and condos is crazy and sad. A modern city needs more than malls, expensive restaurants and fast Wi-Fi to be a nice place to live.

Why will tourists visit Bangkok in the future? For the dozens of shopping malls that sell exactly the same things they can buy in their own country? Why will anybody want to live in Bangkok, where so many of the green, natural areas have been destroyed?

Thankfully there are some people who are trying to protect the city. Residents of Makkasan fought against a greedy plan to change the huge green area of State Railway land into — guess what? — malls and condos. The famous architect Duangrit Bunnag is opening a new creative space in old warehouses on Charoenkrung and the owner of fashion brand FlyNow is opening a space in Thon Buri created with recycled materials which even uses an old aeroplane as a restaurant.

Bangkok needs people like this, to protect what we love about the city. Without them, Bangkok will become a dull and expensive place to live, and I’ll move to the countryside. But only if there’s fast Wi-Fi.

Gary Boyle
Editor, S Weekly

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