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Letters from Thailand - #3

Richard Barrow's Letters from Thailand
Richard Barrow's Letters from Thailand
Welcome back to my weekly newsletter which has now been renamed as “Letters from Thailand”. I really appreciate all the messages of encouragement that I received after the last newsletter went out. It really helps with motivation when it comes to doing things like this. Hopefully you will enjoy the third edition too. Thanks!

The View of Paknam from my Condo in Samut Prakan
The View of Paknam from my Condo in Samut Prakan
Better life ahead for expats?
For a while the other week, a lot of us were getting excited about the news of long-term visas, no 90-day reporting, and being able to buy both house and land. Well, it was all a bit short-lived as we woke up in the morning to the news that the government were trying to attract multi-millionaires and that regular expats, like you and me, wouldn’t be included. I guess no surprise there.
My opinion is that they cannot look after the expats they have here now, how can they attract more? Take a look at the case of the people who had bought into the Thailand Elite visa. The most expensive option cost them over two million baht. When Covid-19 hit last year, they were barred from re-entering the country when people on Non-B visas were allowed in. That made a lot of people angry.
Then, how about the foreign men who are married to Thais? Particularly the ones with children. Why do they have to jump through so many hoops to extend their stay? Why can’t they been given permanent residence or even citizenship after a certain number of years? But then, naturalized citizens aren’t treated that well either. One contacted me to say that he wasn’t allowed to register for vaccine because he was told he is “not a real Thai”. He has a Thai ID card but the numbers on it gave him away as a “farang”.
I am not sure if we will ever be allowed to own land in our own name. Particularly as there was a big outcry among some groups of Thais who called the prime minister a traitor for selling the country to foreigners. If it does every happen, it will probably be for property that is more than 10 million baht and only in certain areas. However, we can buy a condo which is exactly what I did this year. In a future newsletter I will tell you the steps I went through to do that.
National Canal Conservation Day
Nong Chok district of Bangkok
Nong Chok district of Bangkok
Every year on 20th September, it is National Canal Conservation Day (วันอนุรักษ์และรักษาคูคลองแห่งชาติ). On this day in 1994, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn visited people on both sides of Saen Saeb canal between Bangkok and Chachoengsao. Therefore, the Thai government decided to mark 20th September as the National Day for Conservation of Canals.
Did you know, Saen Saeb canal was built by King Rama III in 1837 in order to transport soldiers? It is 72km long and goes all the way to the Bang Pakong River in Chachoengsao. However, it is not navigable all of the way. About five years ago I took a boat along the extension from the end of the Saen Saeb canal boat route to Minburi. Towards the end we had to change boats as our way was blocked by a water gate.
I have a plan to map the canal paths in Bangkok and I will share news about that with you next month.
Thai Island Times
Eating lunch with my friends Chin Chongtong (left) and David Luekens (right)
Eating lunch with my friends Chin Chongtong (left) and David Luekens (right)
This week I want to give a shoutout to my good friend David Luekens who is the creator of Thai Island Times (thaiislandtimes.substack.com). He is on a quest to visit every island in the country, and Thai Island Times is his way to share that journey with everyone through regular newsletters. However, he doesn’t just cover islands and coastal areas, he also does a good wrap-up on travel and Covid-19 news. His newsletters are a mixture of free and paid. I can assure you, they are worth your time. Check out the links below for more information.
Thai Island Times
I will be joining my friends David and Chin (she owns the company Chili Paste Tour) next weekend to do a bit of exploring along the coastline of Samut Prakan, Bangkok and Samut Songkhram. Yes, you heard right, Bangkok has a coastline. Hopefully I will have lots of pictures to share with you including map links of all of the places that we visited.
Nang Loeng Park in Bangkok
The former Royal Turf Club of Thailand (Nang Loeng Racecourse)
The former Royal Turf Club of Thailand (Nang Loeng Racecourse)
Bangkok will be getting not one but two big parks next year. I already told you about Benjakitti Forest Park in #Issue 2 of my newsletter, today I want to tell you about Nang Loeng Park. This used to be the Royal Turf Club (Nang Loeng Racecourse). It was founded in 1916 and used to be popular for horse racing for many years. But the popularity waned and eventually the Crown Property Bureau evicted them in 2018. For a long time no-one knew what the CPB had in store for the land, but then in 2020 came the news that it would be transformed into a public park in commemoration of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The Royal Turf Club, seen from Baiyoke Tower II
The Royal Turf Club, seen from Baiyoke Tower II
I would love to fly my drone here to get some shots of the progress, Unfortunately it is right next door to Suan Chitlada palace and so very illegal. There are also no tall buildings in this royal district. However, this picture that I found on Wikipedia, was taken with a long lens from Baiyoke Tower. I am not sure if the observation floor is open at the moment, but I will make a note of going there on a clear day to see if I can get some photos to share with you.
Nang Loeng Park will cover an area of 34.6 hectares and is expected to be finished in 2022. There will be a:
  • King Bhumibol statue
  • Three-story underground parking for 600-700 cars
  • Nang Loeng community shop
  • Parking building for Ramathibodi Hospital
I will update you in a future newsletter if I get any more information.
Question from a Reader
Henri Dunant (Picture: www.silpa-mag.com)
Henri Dunant (Picture: www.silpa-mag.com)
Why is Henri Dunant Road in Bangkok named after a foreigner?
Thanon Sanam Ma (Racecourse Road) was renamed Thanon Henri Dunant on May 8, 1965, at the request of the Thai Red Cross Society (TRCS) to the Bangkok City Municipality, as the BMA was then known. The road passes TRCS property on both sides. On one side stands the TRCS National Blood Service Centre; on the other are the TRCS College of Nursing and Chulalongkorn Hospital of the TRCS. The road connects Surawong Road to Rama I Road via Chulalongkorn University and the Royal Bangkok Sports Club with its racecourse. The request of the TRCS to change the name was based on a proposal of the International Federation of the Red Cross, at its meeting in 1963 to celebrate the centenary of the Red Cross, that something should be done to commemorate Henri Dunant. Meanwhile, most Thais continue to call the road by its pre-1965 name.
– Tej Bunnag, Assistant secretary-general for administration, the Thai Red Cross Society
You can send your questions by filling in this form and I will do my best to answer them: https://www.thailandqa.com
Bangkok Walking Maps
Yaowarat - The Dragon's Lair in the Capital City
Yaowarat - The Dragon's Lair in the Capital City
I love exploring Bangkok on foot and so I was really happy when TAT Bangkok produced a book called Walking Bangkok. It was initially released in the Thai language but they now have an English version. These maps and guides are a good starting point for doing your own exploring.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Each week I will be giving you a link to download different areas of Bangkok. This week it is YAOWARAT, which is more commonly known as Chinatown. Click on the link for the free PDF file.
If you are posting your pictures on social media, use the hashtag #walkingBKK as I would like to see what you discover.
Bangkok Breaking
Bangkok Break  on Netflix
Bangkok Break on Netflix
If you are looking for a worthwhile drama to watch on Netflix, can I recommend Bangkok Breaking which was released this week? I have only watched the first two episodes so far and it has already gripped me.
Bangkok Breaking is a character-driven drama centred on Wanchai, who moves to Bangkok to save his family from poverty. Following in his brother’s footsteps, Wanchai joins a local ambulance foundation and is quickly pulled into the mysterious high-stakes world of the rescue services. Desperate for justice and answers, Wanchai realises he must unravel a city-wide conspiracy with the help of a determined female journalist.
Bangkok Breaking | Official Trailer | Netflix
Bangkok Breaking | Official Trailer | Netflix
From the Archives of the Bangkok Post
July 1963: Introduced in an attempt to end Bangkok’s traffic chaos, Thailand’s first six sets of automatic traffic lights began turning red in Bangkok. Visit the Bangkok Post website for more.
Street Art along Prem Prachakorn Canal
Richard Barrow
The BMA has unveiled some new #StreetArt along Klong Prem Prachakorn canal in the Pracha Ruam Chai Song community of Chatuchak district. It was done as part of a competition with prizes totally 100,000 baht.

📍MAP: https://t.co/JlRnqdjHv7 #Bangkok #Thailand. https://t.co/Re1xOKusm8
It is always good to see new street art in the city. This one is along Pracha Ruam Chai Song Canal in Chatuchak district of Bangkok. It is just south of Khlong Prem Prison and Don Mueang Airport. I haven’t been there yet, but I think I have managed to find the location on Google Maps.
Green Bangkok 2020
Richard Barrow
🌳 The BMA has opened two “pocket parks” in #Bangkok in the last few weeks. The latest one is Vibhaphirom Park in Chatuchak district. These small parks are part of the Green Bangkok 2030 project to turn vacant land into green spaces.

📍MAP: https://t.co/Kz08YyxL9f #Thailand https://t.co/pX4RXCf5Bv
The Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) have a ten year plan called Green Bangkok 2030. The aim is to increase green areas for Bangkokians from the present ratio of 6.8 square meters per person to 10 sqm before 2030. This means adding another 4,349 acres of green space. Nine parks and green spaces will be opened over the next two years. The latest is Vibhaphirom Park in Chatuchak district. It was originally vacant land and was donated to the BMA to be turned into a green space. Here is the Google Map link. It is not too big so don’t expect too much.
Richard Barrow
🌳 Sundays are family days and most Thai people head to the malls. But I’ve decided to do the opposite and head outside to open spaces. Over the next few Sundays, I will be visiting the best of the parks in #Bangkok and adding photos & GPS locations to this THREAD. Please enjoy. https://t.co/f2sHHjOmMo
Every Sunday I have been visiting public parks around Bangkok. I am taking photos and mapping them for a blog post which I will share with you in a future newsletter.
Rendering of MRT Silom Station
This is a really cool rendering of the MRT Silom underground station. You can see the Thai-Japanese overpass bridge at Sala Daeng intersection with the entrance to Lumpini Park in the background. The Line runs along Rama IV road on two levels. The escalator to the lower level is apparently the longest in Thailand. You can see more of these renderings over at the Pantip.com forum.
Sala Daeng Intersection
Sala Daeng Intersection
While we are on the topic of Sala Daeng intersection, I thought I would share with you this picture taken by John Burgess in 1974 from Dusit Thani hotel. This is looking towards Hua Lamphong. On the left is Silom Road and on the right is the entrance to Lumpini Park. The picture looks very strange without the overpass bridge and the skytrain. But before this it was also very different. The road was only half the width as there was a canal on the left. This was filled in to widen Rama IV Road, Not only that, the first railway in Thailand ran down this road from Paknam to Hua Lamphong. I will share pictures, a map and even a video of this railway line in a future newsletter.
Ban Saladaeng
Ban Saladaeng
I guess while we are still talking about Sala Daeng I should tell you how it got it’s name. A rough translation is “red roof”. At first I thought it was the original Sala Daeng Station on the Paknam Railway built a hundred years ago. But no. After I did a bit of digging I discovered it comes from the house Ban Sala Daeng which belonged to Chaophraya Yommarat a government official during the reigns of King Rama V and King Rama VI.  He was later appointed regent to the young King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) in 1935, holding the position until his death in 1938. Ban Sala Daeng was built on the intersection between Silom Road and Khlong Toei canal, which is now Rama IV Road.
Competition Winners
Last week I did a competition to win a print copy of the European Heritage Map. I picked six winners at random. Congratulations to James Fisher, Guy Ridgeon, Sant Sethi, Anand Khandelwal, Callan Carr and Jennifer Ferris. Please send me your mailing address in Thailand and I will send you the maps. There will be another competition next week.
That’s all for now. Thank you for reading this far. Hopefully see you again next week!
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Richard Barrow's Letters from Thailand
Richard Barrow's Letters from Thailand @richardbarrow

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Samut Prakan, Thailand