Nice one...thanks for sharing...not what I was expecting either..
Inside Klong Toei
The name conjure’s up images of a sordid and slum-filled part of Bangkok with ramshackle tin-shacks and sanitation not much different from a 3rd world hell-hole in Africa.
My journey into the ‘Klong’ started from Subway station 1.
Just before I left the subway carriage a brutish and chunky looking farang made stupid and condescending comments about the pronunciation of the station itself when the announcment that we’d arrived. Klong Toei being said in a distinct and emphasised manner. Sighing at the lowly standards that the new-wave of farang seem to be setting I exited, glad that the swarthy and greasy looking fellow was not exiting also.
Although I was not naive enough to believe that there would be a sprawling shanty town at the door way, as I ascended from the bowels of Bangkok on the elevator I did wonder if there’d be an element of that at least.
On the street outside I saw it was as I’d reckoned, working class buildings of three to four storeys lined a main road running north-east to south-west. In the background were the ever-present skyscrapers, a notable one being the imposing Lumphini Tower.
A part of me was still curious about the slum-factor this district was supposedly known for and I turned left, following the road to where an expressway roared overhead.
It was not only an expressway but a vast intersection of road, far too big to cross unless you sprinted at full pelt as constant traffic from all four directions was relentless once it was their turn.
A railway track passed across it from left-to-right and I briefly considered walking down it for a bit to see what was down there. But I quick look showed it was urban wilderness in both directions.
Dismission that direction I turned around and headed back in the direction of the MRT, a young farang with the look of the Norse about him just exited and I could tell he was out to explore like I was. Stopping in front of him I let him know that on foot it was almost impossible to get across the road and that there was nothing to be seen. I’d intuitively guessed right on his intention as he thanked me for the info and made his way back inside the MRT.
Emboldened that it was not just myself that set’s out on roving adventures I continued past the MRT and into the Klong Toei district further.
A shambling and wretched-looking beggar appeared ahead of me. While they seem harmless enough a beggar has little to lose with the state of his life and circumstances.
I discretely fired off a few shots and footage of him once he was a safe distance away.
Notice the tattoo’s that adorn him, they say that these are for luck and grant powers. Yet I can’t help but wonder if they’ve either had them done after their more ‘down-at-heel’ turning point in life, or just abused the chances they had to end up in such a state.
The road traffic here is steady and brisk enough but in rush-hour I cannot say the standard, expect it to be near a standstill.
I cross over here completely to the other side. On this side of the road near to the MRT there is a more ‘working class’ aspect I notice. The soi’s are slightly narrower and the people somewhat poorer from the look of it.
The buildings here though are bright yellow, something I’d not seen before in Bangkok. Looking to the end of the Soi I notice that the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly building is dead ahead!
Before I can get to it there’s some doings afoot in fornt of me.
An ice machine with a small work-crew grafting like trojans. They dump in the great block of ice, it slices the thing into ice of a fine ‘slush’ composition, which is packed into bags. The Thai’s work it like a machine and themselves like a well-oiled mechanism. They’ve been doing this all day so far I reckon, but still they carry on. The heat might be pounding but the Thais have work to do!
I’m only about four yards away filming and they soon notice me.
Amid certain other races and nations this might earn me scorn or derision for recording their toil, but not the Thais. They are not in the slightest bothered or upset that I’m among them recording the doings. The give off mostly happy and warm smiles to the wandering stranger. Perhaps it’s because they’ve never endured the double-edged wonders and trials or imperialism that I get such a friendly welcome as the adventuring white man? Who can tell...
Further down I go and get to the gates of the Monopoly building. It’s yellow too, and is probably where the trend started for this area. Some vendors are selling food and seem happy and cheery enough. The constant traffic blasting in and out of the gates makes filming and picturing a bit hairy but after a few close-calls all is well.
I eat some nice and tasty pinapple from here but after a bit more walking back up the soi decline the restaurants. The meat looked a bit too dodgy from what I’m used to in other Thai restaurants. Good for a Thai stomach, 50/50 for a farang one
There’s plenty of old cars here, rough and ready, but still in action and serviceable from what I can tell.
This one here has seen heavy use yet still has a good bit of life left.
As I explore further down the main road I notice a green fence to my left, it’s got spaces in it that reveals a small slum in Klong Toei. It’s not like the sprawling and crowded slums that occsaionally get shown on th Thai TV/ This one is on a vverdant green wasteland.
As I walk further along the grassy slum a large opneing for cars and bikes becomes noticeable. A guard post is inside it and for a moment I hesistate. At first I think it’s being manned but the two Thais inside it are slum dwellers, half-drunk and lethargic.
I go inside to begin my observing work.
Part 1 Continues Here:
Klong Toei Bangkok
Nice one...thanks for sharing...not what I was expecting either..
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Don't get me wrong - I don't want a 'serious' board but I'd like posts to be either genuinely amusing, informative and/ or thought provoking.
Ian McNamara - July 2000
A clash with the management will not serve the purpose of your inner peace and therefore will deprive you from happiness. Thai Language School DOS, 2009
Only the bad person say the bad thing about the good thing.
Anon. Thai DOS
There are some nice areas in Klong Toei. I work there, and I spend a lot of time riding around the area. Thanks for sharing.
I believe, if we take habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class. There seems ever to have been a proneness in the brilliant and warm-blooded to fall into this vice. ~ Abraham Lincoln