Life as a shopping mall

Pim Wangtechawat

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I was born and raised in Bangkok. No matter which city I fantasise about living in, it is to the traffic-infested, polluted, bustling streets of Thailand’s capital I keep returning. Bangkok is my home. But it is a strange sort of home. My family and friends are here, but, in many ways, it is not necessarily a home you are fond of. Bangkok is a city that is mostly lived and experienced rather than enjoyed or admired. It invokes a love-hate thing that is difficult to understand unless you are from here. Whenever friends from abroad ask me what there is to do in Bangkok, or what we do in Bangkok, I find that my answer is always, “Not much”.

Outdoor activities are not very possible because of the intense heat, and Bangkok is so populated and packed that simply going for a walk in the park or visiting a museum requires more effort than it is worth. The city’s traffic and public transport system already make travelling somewhere take twice as long as it ought to. Playing sports and learning artistic skills require money; you have to be able to afford creativity and physical activities. What remains, then, for most residents of Bangkok to do? Well, the most convenient activity we can all enjoy is visiting shopping malls.

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