Since the first week of living in Bangkok one issue caught my eye:
Bangkok is a city which appears to unite so many contrasts.
To give you an example, I would like to show you my everyday walk to the office.
I start my way by leaving a neat apartment which is entirely occupied by Europeans. Walking down the alley, I almost only pass simply-dressed Thai people who gain their living expenses by selling food from their stalls. Although they´re usually very friendly, you can tell from their faces that it´s for sure not the most comfortable way to survive. It´s an odd image, because they stand in front of buildings which is around 50 floors high.
On the other side of the street, I see a whole family with two little children sitting on the ground in front of their house. They are cleaning fish before putting it to dry. I wonder whether this is supposed to be their dinner or products they are going to sell later on. I feel like an alien wearing business clothes and passing them.
After getting some fruit for my breakfast from a woman whose name I can´t spell and who doesn´t speak any English, I find myself in front of a skyscraper called “Empire Tower”. Just next to this rush hour suffering crossroad, I spot a man in business look kneeing on the ground praying to the Black Buddha statue in front of this huge modern glass construction. He doesn´t seem to notice the vibrant frantic rush which I feel tangible all around that spot. From my point of view this seems like a really surreal interaction of tradition and modernity. I´m impressed that in a city known for building new skyscrapers up-in-the-air everyday, its inhabitants still seem to keep a down-to-earth attitude by following their traditions and living their religion.
Entering the Empire Tower there is another interesting co-existence which I had never seen before in my home-country: While you can shop international and local brands in a big supermarket chain on the basement floor, the ground floor radiates its own vibe with a grand variety of pop-up market stalls which keep on changing every two weeks.
In fact living in Bangkok constantly feels like crossing bridges between two realities. I guess the people are the bridges who make Bangkok the place as it is. Somehow it seems that their common pride of their culture and tradition unites them and makes them immune to the rush of the development of the giant metropolis.
In Germany I never saw such encounters and obvious differences between “poor” and “rich”, “educated” and “non-educated” or “tradition” and “modernity” at the same place. For me, it´s really impressive how all these contrasts co-exist in peace and even interact.
It´s exactly the unique mixture of everything which makes Bangkok and Thailand such a fascinating and vibrant place that everyone should get to know!
From: Melanie Pietschmann