For me I believe Bangkok is a soft City but here is why….
You know I have been in Bangkok now for just over 3 months and this is my third visit to this City. I don’t profess to be any kind of expert but being married to a Thai woman like Angella and as writer and Artist trained in the art of observation along with my travel experiences and background I think I can form valid observations and insights fairly quickly.
I know there are many of you who have been here a lot longer than I have and may have a different view point but I can only tell it from what I see and experience for myself.
And so far my impressions of Bangkok is that it is a soft City.
Let me clarify that this is a positive thing because what I mean about this is that it is not an angry City. Recently we were having coffee with a Swedish friend over at Starbucks at Ari Station and both he and I agreed that Bangkok is not a harsh City. You don’t feel threatened with your personal safety like in other cities.
For me I grew up in England only a few miles out of South London and can honestly say they are worlds apart as Cities go. That was 20 years ago and since then I have lived in Perth Western Australia which is also a much more relaxed and safer place than London even though over the 20 years I have been there I have seen the sense of safety eroded as sadly I have to say more and more English settle there. But Bkk even in comparison to Perth feels much safer
Don’t get me wrong I’m not blaming the English entirely, but as an Englishman I know our culture very well and we do seem to bring with us a certain aggressiveness wherever we go. Current writer excepted of course..(lol)
English are not the only ones with aggressive tendencies when we live in close proximity to each other
So when I compare that to Bangkok I do believe it is a softer city. I have just not seen the displays of aggressiveness, rudeness and indifference that I am used to. Even in other Cities around the world as our Swedish friend will attest to coming from Stockholm and having lived in Bangkok for nearly 10 years. It seems we English are not the only ones with aggressive tendencies when we live in close proximity to each other.
So what about Bangkok then, why does it appear so soft?
Well firstly to every positive there is a negative and as our friend commented and as I am also aware there is a negative underside to Bangkok. You can just as easily get stabbed, mugged or beaten up as in London if you look for it by placing yourself in those places and situations. But what we identified was that it is the Thai culture of passive show that is one of the big reasons for this soft impression along with of course the strong Buddhist culture which promotes passive kindness.
You might upset a Thai but they will not show you aggression or reaction there and then
What our friend explained to me was that you might well upset a Thai but they will not show you any real aggression or reaction there and then. It is simply not their style to do that. It is not accepted and it is not their way…the famous saying of Greng Jai comes into play here also. But beware, because no sooner have you forgotten all about the incident when you will be confronted by their reaction…maybe in a quite alley somewhere or by some other means.
So this means that although Thais do not show too much reaction and aggression as as say the English will it does not mean they will just let it go. But it does seem that unprovoked displays of aggression or personal attacks are not as commonplace as many of our Western Cities and towns. To me it simply does not seem that Thais go looking for trouble and are much more willing to avoid confrontation, especially in public.
No sign of any trouble as we walked along the highstreet to get a taxi
I am reminded of New Years even which we spent with family at Central World in the middle of Bangkok. Apart from the lovely relaxed mood all evening there was also no sign of any trouble as we walked along the highstreet to get a taxi. Granted there was a lot of Police around but this would also be the case in Perth and London but you would still see trouble.
I feel that Buddhist culture seems to equip them with a higher level of tolerance and patience as can be seen by the driving and road behavior. I swear that if we put some of these antics back in Australia there would be all sorts of carnage on the roads and not caused by car crashes.
I never feel threatened or under any sort of pressure
So this is one of the reasons I have very quickly fallen in love with the place. As a farang I am aware as we all are of how many curious looks and stares we get especially if like me we inhabit areas mostly inhabited by Thai people. Sometimes I feel like an exhibit piece walking down our Soi. But I never feel threatened or under any sort of pressure, even when on occasion I have walked back very late at night from watching Soccer at one of the local beer houses.
There seems to be much more connection between people here also. Not the cold alloofness you experience in London and not the indifference displayed in many other Cities. Here they will actually acknowledge you if they have seen you before, even for me a Farang who they cannot really talk to I am warmed by their friendly attention and politeness.
So my impression is that Bangkok is blessed to be a soft City
So here is to Bangkok the friendly City!!!
All the best and Chok Dee,
Intercultural and Social Commenter