Ponchai’s Story

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Ponchai Linpratya.

On the 15th of September 2016 we interviewed Ponchai Linpratya in MacDonald’s on Kanjanapisek Road to hear his memories of what Bang Rak was like when he was young and his views on plans for change there. Ponchai was born in 1969 to a wealthy Buddhist family. He went to school at Kalawar Church and in his free time enjoyed biking around the neighborhood with his friends. Now he owns a number of private businesses and travels back and forth between his two houses.

Here are some of Ponchai’s memories and thoughts on Bang Rak:

“[Bang Rak] was like a little house in a large forest … not a major business district but a place where you could rest … In the past … there were markets and businesses that sold just about everything…”

“Before the community was a place where everybody sort of knew each other … Now there are no relationships … Many of the people who live there now did not live there before … Many left and those that did not have no other option … not lucky enough to get out … There are some slums … but there are less drugs involved these days now that the officials are stepping in … My building has no problem … and I have reached out to the leaders of the communities … telling them that if they require help like electricity to organize an event they can connect to my power line…”

“When people hear the word Bang Rak they usually know the district is a place for registering marriage on Valentine’s Day. They probably also know about the Grand Postal Office and the Oriental Hotel…”

“My friends at school and I would go biking … we would bike in the neighborhood around Si Phraya and Suriyawong Road … There was this soi known as San Chao Mae Pla Tapian … a soi that tests the skill of its drivers … if you could make it past the soi without crashing into anything, then you passed … It is very narrow … A scary incident here includes a truck dragging a kid down the road after slamming into him … I was seven at the time and as soon as I heard that I stopped leaving the house. (Chuckles).”

“I like the convenient transportation … There’s a bus stop in front of my house.”

 “If I had the power I would keep everything just the way it is … maybe add a few things like trams … Thailand is connected to its waterways … So is the architecture, whether it is Kalawar Church, the Oriental Hotel, The Shangri-La Hotel or Assumption Cathedral … Walk through the sois and you will see history … but Thai people don’t really take care of historical sites. There comes a time when you want to have things go back to the way they used to be but you can’t … if it is destroyed then it is destroyed … It’s important to preserve things but as soon as profit’s involved preservation will not happen … there is a difference between donating and investing…”

“In truth I think that it’s more important to conserve Bang Rak than to develop it … When I see new condos being built I think about what was removed … It is good to see that the Grand Postal Office is still the same … It is worth preserving …”

“I think it is a good idea to turn Bang Rak into a tourist attraction … We have to look at things this way. Thailand only has two or three business opportunities: tourism, food and service industries like hospitals and hotels … It is great if we can do these things well … The tourist attractions are near the river side not on Charoen Krung Road.”

 

 

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