The Mean Streets of Bangkok

Lad Prao 101 (or Lat Prao or Praw or various other spellings) is the riskiest part of Bangkok – official! Well, according to a report in the rarely reliable The Nation and emanating from the police, 5,365 spots in Bangkok have been identified as risky. I’m not sure how helpful this is (assuming, of course, that the police actually want to be helpful, which is far from certain). Bangkok is no Baltimore and making people feel insecure will serve only to spread stress – perhaps the police are concerned about their budget.

What kind of crimes are involved? Well, I personally know two people who have suffered street robberies in the last couple of years (handbag snatching). We have had another murder of a prominent person but this appears to have been an assassination rather than the kind of thing that most people have to concern themselves with –  while the violence in the South has never spread from that area, if one discounts the army propaganda that persons unknown from the South were responsible for the New Year’s Eve bombings a couple of years ago which most people seem to believe were by some part of the military itself (I simply report what people say, I of course have no opinion on the matter).

On the whole, I have rarely felt intimidated by civilians in the Bangkok streets – it was a different story when Sonthi’s jackboots put an armoured car and armed soldiers outside our office after the disastrous 2006 military coup. A guy tried to scam me when I was going to one wat by claiming it was closed and I should go to some tourist trp shop instead (I just ignored him) and a couple of taxi drivers have tried to pull a fast one (out of the hundreds and probably thousands of taxi journeys that I have taken). I daresay that I pay over the odds for some street market items and so forth but I consider that acceptable.