Expats debate over Bangkok’s Golden Era

Expats debate over Bangkok’s Golden Era

Expats debate over Bangkok’s Golden Era

Long-stay expats are remembering Bangkok's golden era.

Nowadays, almost every world city seems to be changing so fast that long-stay expats hardly recognise the city they once knew and loved. The Thai capital is no exception to this rule, with many older expatriates expressing nostalgia for what used to be and not certain they’re at all happy about the many changes. It seems every expat’s golden era is different from other views and is dependent on the length of a visit and the reasons for arriving.

For many expatriates who worked and lived in the city in earlier days, there’s a nostalgia for what’s now lost but seemed special at that time. The first question is whether the ‘good old days’ were ever actually there, and whether Bangkok ever had a golden era. One respondent to this question remembered some 30 years ago before high rise buildings became must-haves and the one, single disco was the place to see and be seen. He added it was easily possible to write a book about those times, whilst another writer strongly suggested the 60s’ totally Thai pop culture style was its Golden Era, just before its unsuccessful regression into Western styles later on. In those days, he added, Bangkok was Asia’s hip city.

Another expat who relocated to Bangkok for his company set the date at the late 50s’, before the city was engulfed in an expat wave. Traditional and very Thai, it wasn’t an easy posting for Western expats as no-one spoke English and there were no Western innovations such as supermarkets and decent roads. By 1969, when he left the city permanently, everything had changed beyond recognition. One female expatriate placed Bangkok’s Golden Era firmly in the 1970s, with not one single skyscraper, only one department store and hundreds of street markets and small, family-run stores for food and all other household needs. She still visits but regrets the changes, adding the city now bears no resemblance to its former self.

Several expats who’d arrived in the late 1980s said there was too much provision being made for tourists in Bangkok, adding the real Thailand could still be found in the rural areas and became popular with visitors at around that time. Of course, those expats who arrived for one thing and one thing only found the city and its bars all too willing to provide what they’d arrived for. According to another female expatriate, by the year 2000, the old city had almost totally disappeared, but optimism reigned as regards its future as a modern metropolis.. She added she’d returned in 2017, but found it so very different, saying it seemed to be carrying a huge burden along with its massively-increased size and complexity.

Related Stories:

Latest News: