The busy Bangkok streets at night

A busy street in Bangkok at night

Whenever asked about living in Bangkok I always give the same answer “I love Thailand but I hate Bangkok.” or I pull a face.

I try to think positive, I usually follow the snarky facial expression with some of the following ‘I take the city for granted!’, ‘I love the fact it is a 24 hour city!’ or ‘I can do anything here!’

It is true, Bangkok is an amazing city. Despite the poor public transportation and the constant humidity limiting pleasant outdoor activities Bangkok has a lot to offer. The cuisine, the history, the nightlife, the best deals in the city, the people, shopping and the cuisine (it really does need to be mentioned twice) when you also add the amazing beaches 2+ hours away and presence of Western brands and the fact that Bangkok is an international hub so you can fly anywhere for a reasonable price.

Why do I pull a face? I should love it here.

I. Hate. How. Thai. People. Walk.

I leave my condo happy and serene. It never takes me more than a minute to get angry and frustrated.

A colleague of mine accused me of being culturally insensitive. I think that was what he was getting at, he actually said ‘It is their country; they can walk how they like.’ True. But I don’t have to like it. I wasn’t randomly mouthing off, I was explaining why I don’t want to live and work in Thailand any more, I apologise for giving an honest answer.

Bangkok is a very busy city; a population of over 8 million people (all of which head for the sky train at the same time I do). Along Sukhumvit Road it is very busy, I dread to think how many people live with a kilometer of Sukhumvit – I would guess around 94 million people (excluding soi dogs and giant grime rats), new condos continue to be built on Sukhumvit. I only suggest getting a taxi if it is past 10:30PM or a Sunday.

I digress. My point is this city is busy.

The footpaths too, leave a lot to be desired. They are uneven poorly irrigated death traps. Pedestrians are allowed to use them but you must understand that they are motorbike roads primarily used for selling tat.

Understandably it is slow and tricky to walk anywhere. My frustration lies with how people don’t adapt to the Krypton Factor assault course. No system has come about e.g. stick to the left, take it in turns to squeeze between a defunct phone booth and a coffee stand, walk in a STRAIGHT F***ING LINE!

Bangkok's busy Khao Sarn road is always, well, busy.

Bangkok’s busy Khao Sarn road is always, well, busy.

Queuing was created through adapting.

Maybe I am more exasperated than annoyed with the walking situation here. Yes, people here walk very, very, very slowly but they also walk like they are the only person on the planet.

The most Annoying Walkers in Bangkok (and over cities… probably)

1- The text and walker – No explanation needed. Once, and I swear this is true, a woman stepped OFF the footpath to talk a phone call. I was late to work that day because it took me a while to recover.

2- The ‘I don’t know where I am going’ walker – usually when leaving a shop, or reaching the top of an escalator.

3- The ‘I have bumped into you accidentally, but I refuse to make eye contact or apologise’ walker – most walkers in Bangkok lack peripheral vision, I don’t walk to the BTS, I zig-zag.

4-  The 180 degrees turn walker – Usually this person goes from 4 to 3. Who does this!

5-  The magnet – the person who is a slow walker but is attuned to whoever wishes to walk past them.

6-  The 3+ friends who absolutely must walk in a line next to each other.

7- The foot dragger – Quite possibly my least favourite. Yes, it is 6am. We all want to be asleep still, but cheer; smile, and pick up your bloody feet.

8- The Harpsichords – Usually an older couple, walking side-by-side in a narrow passage so limit falling in to second place in their imaginary walk race to the BTS. When said narrow passage widens to accommodate the faster humans they will adapt (ooh they adapt the other way!) to take up the additional space.

This city will never change, and neither will I. The solution? Live right next to the sky train.

Living next to the crowded BTS Sky Train may be the best solution. Any other suggestions?

Living right next to the BTS sky train station may be the best solution. Any other suggestions?

What about you? Any opinion or experiences when walking in the streets of Bangkok? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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Written by Rob Dodding

Rob Dodding

Rob is a part-time adventurer and full-time English teacher in Bangkok. He occasionally writes for the the Travel, Food and Culture section of Retail Plus Bangkok. Opinions expressed are his own and I commend his brevity in speaking out his mind.

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