Neon nights

5 04 2016

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Few cities have the night time allure of Bangkok, when the sun finally sets after each hot, busy day and the pavements fill up with the smell of meat cooking on charcoal. Along Sukhmvit and Silom the bars light up and the music strikes up. In thousands of other suburban streets friends and neighbours gather outside local watering holes, to sit on plastic chairs, eat, relax, watch TV in the open air and enjoy the balmy evening breeze. Under freeways and in swamp-like stretches of vacant land, the shadows deepen and stray dogs and cats – and god knows what else – come out to prowl and fight.

I experienced all of this on a long, lazy, loping evening stroll from Silom, behind the beautiful Wat Hualamphong and the Body-Snatcher temple, to a village-like neighbourhood of alleyways and street markets, and pavements heaving with food stalls, all the way down to Chinatown. I was surprised to see that even in the shadows of the massive apartment complexes coming up around Sam Yan – the monstrous North Korean pyramid of the Ideo Q complex, and the super luxurious Chula on the old Versailles brothel site – traditional life went on, thriving even, in the shadows.

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