When Chinatown is no longer Chinese

To visitors, Yaowarat comes to life when the gold shops’ tall windows go dark and neon signs burn bright on top of buildings. As night falls, the main street of Bangkok’s Chinatown transforms into a lively…
However, just a stone’s throw away, the back-alleys of Yaowarat are pitch-black and empty. “The back streets empty out at night because nobody really lives here anymore,” says Somchai Kwangtongpanich,…

Demographic changes and urban development have remodelled the face of Yaowarat altogether. Today, the neighbourhood that seems busy to visitors appears deserted, especially at night, in comparison with…

Post Publishing PCL. All rights reserved.In his youth, the narrow streets were filled with people. Residents gathered in front of their shophouses at dusk, chatting the night away as an escape from the confinement and overcrowding of their homes. Then,…
Then, 30 years ago, Bangkok’s peripheral areas started to pick up. As owning a town house became a thing, many second-generation Chinese moved out of Yaowarat to start their own families elsewhere. They…

This generation was the first to become unhappy with the traditional lifestyle, as well as the lack of space in the inner city, Somchai explains. “When you grew up with five, 10 or 20 people in your home,…

Nowadays, their children move into condominiums, located next to public transportation lines. From the 1980s onwards, a new wave of immigrants arrived in Thailand. These newcomers were from Mainland China…

New” Chinese or the “flying Chinese” who travelled by air — as opposed to those who reached Siam by boat over 100 years ago — headed straight to Yaowarat to establish their businesses.

Their shops’ walls, from floor to ceiling, are covered with shoes and other goods imported directly from China and which they retail at low prices. However, most of the newcomers do not live in Yaowarat….

Notice how the houses are locked from the outside,” Somchai adds, pointing to padlocks on the shop windows’ blinds. A glimmering light and crashing sounds come out from a shrine, where a man has chosen…

Such night-time encounters are rare these days, according to Somchai, when a large proportion of Yaowarat’s remaining inhabitants keep to themselves. Another demographic shift is more obvious: Chinatown…

[Source:-Bangcock zpost]