Bangkok, the Distant Past and Now
Old cities spark curiosity. Bangkok draws the image of neon lights, urban poverty, politicians on a frenzied war path to destroy one another, and endless terrible traffic.
I spent hours, talking to people living and working in Bangkok about the city they call home, at times a love-hate relationship for many, while others are obsessed with pushing themselves in a make-it-or-break-it end. Bangkok is a city that draws people from peculiar circumstances into the arena of urban suffocation.
People are preoccupied, those caught in a never-ending cycle of work, while others senselessly focus on the much-awaited Bangkok governor election. In a way, whoever is elected for this illustrious position wields control over a city in which the national government of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has very little authority. The system of administration of this capital city of Thailand is exceptionally unique.
Bangkok has been plagued with floods, poverty, poor infrastructure, pollution and self-importance. Society remains almost redundant, despite its rich history, due to the strangulation of the social caste, where the rich overlords the urban poor. Slums are a common sight, the stench of poverty is kept in a cocoon where very few would care to admit. I do believe there is a need for change, not that cosmetic application of fancy promises, but a more people-friendly, swift-acting governor. That is what modern Bangkok needs.
The transformation of society towards a caring facet of Thai culture is important. Without this, you'll find yourself caught in the midst of grumbling local and sweating foreigners who would continue spewing their ideals of what makes an urban culture progressive - with one catch, many would continue thinking about themselves, driving everyone else into a void of redundancy. Like it or not, in Bangkok, if you have the money, anything is possible. Such behavior tends to breed stigmatization of the weak and that obnoxious pretext that the poor are happy with their pitiful lives.
If one believes in the core of leadership, then Bangkok needs a new governor, that's for sure.
Click here to see more fabulous snapshots of Bangkok, in the old days.