Bangkok is a wonderful place to live. In what other world capital with modern amenities can you get so much for so little? Farangs complain about this place, but where are they hanging out exactly? I am sure they are in or around Sukhumvit, probably on a daily basis. The same types that say Padea when they mean Pattaya. They care not to really know this country.
Business reasons excluded, I don’t get the fascination with Sukhumvit among expats. Tourists visiting from their respective sexless homelands have an excuse to be there, but your typical jaded know-it-all expat should know better by now. Everything is needlessly expensive there. The scammers congregate there. Little Lagos every night. The police shake people down there. The tessakit fine collectors are milling about. The Indians are pushing wool suits on 40ºC days. The horrible Thai food. The overpriced farang food. The broken footpaths. The floods. The rats. The fact that everybody is figuring you for a tourist. All to be near the absolute lowest rung of female society who secretly look down on you for being with them.
Surely we, as savvy travelers, know innately to avoid the tourist rip-off circus in any capital we go to. New Yorkers don’t do their grocery shopping in Times Square. In fact, they avoid that area by all means possible. The spectacle of tourists backlit by neon as they pay thrice the price for junky trinkets and theater tickets just doesn’t appeal to city natives. And that’s what the Asok-Nana corridor is for Bangkok. So, why do so many expats believe they absolutely must live in this area? The BTS/MRT is the only genuine
asset there. I suppose credit is due these gents for not living adjacent to Khao San Road – pound for pound the most annoying street in Asia.
Ok yes, in Sukhumvit there exists a high potential to meet a person who will accept payment in exchange for pretending to like you. And yes, you can see fellow white people of questionable character getting drunk. Woo hoo. But why move to an obvious tourist strip and willingly pay sucker prices for absolutely everything on a daily basis?
I live a six-minute walk from an air-conditioned MRT station, a few stops away from Sukhumvit but I almost never go there. I did visit for a wander today for the first time in about four months. The tourist price markup on everything made me chuckle. I pay half the amount for massages. I eat the Thai food Thais eat at Thai prices. A haircut is 80 baht. For those who need it, male relief is provided by attractive, young, Thai-spec personnel; 90 minutes, 1500 – 2000 baht. A Viagra 4 pack is 100 baht. I pay less than half the rent of any place along the BTS line for a high-floor unit, balcony, view of the city, pool, etc. When you meet a working class lady around here, it is because she has genuine interest in you as a person, and is most likely not a discarded and aging single mother in a secret relationship with a tomboy looking for extra cash.
I truly love my neighborhood for all these reasons. All my needs are met within a 2-block to 1 km radius. The sois are clean, don’t get flooded, and are soi dog free. The people here are not out to scam the random farang walking around. There is no pretense, no resentment, no touts, no police raids, no fake watch salesmen. Bangkok is a huge, historic place with bustling little neighborhoods scattered everywhere. Real life is happening around the clock in these areas. You can slip in and be a part of it – if you really gave a damn about this place. Any expat who professes love for this city can easily save themselves much aggravation and heaps of money by avoiding the high-price / low-quality Sukhumvit trap entirely. You can’t be a willing mark and expect respect.
On second thought, stay in Sukhumvit. Don’t expand your experience here one iota. Don’t rise to a semblance of decency. Don’t have the self-respect to demand fresh food or attractive company or fair prices. Stay drunk. Continue your display of fuzzy shoulders and body odor around Nana. Continue your brief interludes of condom copulation with dry cavernous holes devoid of friction. Continue doing all you can to stay in Thailand because you love it here. We don’t want your kind in our neighborhood.
Some readers, especially those who only visit and who stay on Sukhumvit, might find this article negative, but I have to agree that pretty much everything Clyde says about Sukhumvit is accurate. Sukhumvit is expensive and it is full of con men and swindlers and the last Thai women on the planet a guy should get involved with are found on Sukhumvit.
I lived in Patumwan, a short walk from MBK, for my first 5 years in Bangkok. At the time I hated the idea of living on Sukhumvit because it felt too touristy. For the next 7 years I lived in the Narathiwat Road area. I really liked each of those areas. Narathiwat Road in particular did not have many foreigners back then (with the exception of Narathiwat soi 24 which had a Starbucks branch, a Subway branch, a major international school and several large condo buildings, all with a lot of foreigners).
In 2011 I moved to Sukhumvit and while there was much I didn’t like about it, the fact that this website was a big part of my life then and that a lot of what I covered was on Sukhumvit Road between the Nana intersection and Emporium, it was convenient living there. It made putting the column together easier and that helped to offset the many evils of the place. But for sure, unless you have a compelling reason to be on Sukhumvit, there are plenty of other places to consider – and you find foreigners in every neighbourhood in Bangkok these days.
The author cannot be contacted.