Something is changing in Bangkok.
“We are losing the heart and soul of Bangkok,” warns Michael Biedassek, a Thai-German Bangkokian and the founder of ethical travel company Bangkok Vanguards.
Some of Bangkok’s oldest and most culturally rich communities and traditions are currently under threat, as new development projects move in and push older, historic communities out. Even the very street stalls that put the metropolis on the map are at risk of disappearing, with the government announcing a ban on street vendors in an effort to “clean up” the capital.
“The people, food, traditions, architecture, and the way of life tell you a lot about the DNA of a place,” Biedassek explains. “If everything is developed into large corporations, then you lose the character of the place and everything is replaceable—you can find the same corporations in other cities around the world. And if Bangkok’s DNA is wiped out, what are we left with? It will just be a copy of other international cities.”
I happen to agree. One of the reasons Singapore has lost some of its charm are the proliferation of big box and designer stores, often overshadowing and forcing out the hawker stalls. And it is vital to keep tourists, locals, and vendors connected in some fashion.
And I cannot imagine the economic fallout for people who make their living in the thousands of food and retail stalls. Just about every square foot of space houses a stall, some for decades! The numerous hodge podge of stalls are the Bangkok I know and love.
Aside from staying in a large hotel, we do try to patronize as many locals as we can. And I always meet up with our friend Danny. We usually have dinner together at least once. He knows Bangkok and Thailand in general, better than anyone could possibly ever know. He gets SIM cards for our phones, tickets to sold out events, and finds the best local places to eat. He is the man!
And the food here in Bangkok is among the best, and least expensive in the world!!!!