It's a new year, but we still wake up to find ourselves in the same old horrifying situations, can someone come and rescue us — or we should stop praying and just help ourselves out. But how?
Horror Story 1: Where's the connection?
Last August, Bangkokians were thrilled for the opening of the much-awaited MRT Purple Line, running between Taopoon and Bang Yai. No more eating breakfast in the car. No more falling asleep on a stranger’s shoulder on the bus. Everything looked perfect until passengers that went on the trial run discovered the catch. A big one! The Purple Line’s Taopoon station, its first station, isn’t connected to the Blue Line’s Bang Sue station. The MRT has announced a station in between, unfortunately, is not yet in operation due to some delays and difficulties. Passengers have had three options to travel between the two stations: walk for almost a kilometer and suffer from excessive underarm sweating, take a bus that would most likely get stuck for an hour and a half in Bangsue’s hellish traffic or take a free, non-airconditioned train ride provided by the State Railway of Thailand. None of these options make sense. The MRT missed out on the basic advantage of public transport: to make the commute as flawless as possible for passengers.
Horror Story 2: Double Trouble on the BTS
We should probably stop ranting about how many times the BTS has broken down during the morning rush over the last few years—there are some things you just can’t prevent. But the one thing that ticks us off everyday that can actually be changed is the way we buy tickets. Can someone tell us why we need to go to the counter to exchange our notes into coins and then take the coins to the vending machine to get a token to get on the train? It’s 2017 and even a toddler can tell this is nonsense. Plus, why is it necessary to have two different cards for the BTS and the MRT? Are we really living in 2017? Where is Mangmoom Card?
Horror Story 3: The roads that flash floods emerge
Sometimes it’s hard to decide which is scarier: the heavy rains or the roads after the heavy rains. The rainy season in Bangkok is more frightening than you think. An hour’s worth of rain can turn your soi into a canal, making you wish you had a lifeboat instead of a Mini Cooper. The torrential downpour is followed by paralyzing traffic. Commuters get stranded in the BTS and MRT stations, and families of roaches decide to make an appearance—yuck! That’s the nightmare that haunts Bangkokians (almost) every time the sky opens up. It’s gotten us thinking: who is responsible for this? The “super” drainage tunnels are simply useless.
But hey, the governor’s not the only one to blame. YOU are equally responsible. The garbage you don’t properly dispose of is also a huge factor. According to a Thai PBS report, almost 10 to 20 tons of garbage have to be gathered from the canals each day. All these rubbish blocks and slows down the city’s drainage systems, and causes those flash floods we love to curse to high heavens. While we’re dreaming of a better waste management system, we all need to do our part and dispose of our waste properly. Get on it, people!
Horror Story 4: Wires that are so tangled
Knotted. Twisted. Chaotic. It’s hard to find a proper word to describe the state of the city’s electric wires. If you really want to punish criminals (or royally piss someone off), ask them to loosen Bangkok’s tangled wires. We nearly celebrated when the BMA announced a plan to put all electric wires underground. Here’s hoping this happens real soon.
Horror Story 5: Get out of my way!
When was the last time you almost got hit by a motorbike—on the sidewalk? Probably yesterday. The last time we looked up the definition of “sidewalk”, it’s supposed to be a paved path for pedestrians to “walk” on. That’s definitely not the case in Bangkok. In this city, pedestrians are the last people who can claim ownership to the footpath (and everywhere else). We not only have to watch out for vendors planting their businesses in these side streets (thank god they’ve been moved out from Siam Square), we also have to give way to hordes of unruly motorcyclists who honk frustratingly as if it were the pedestrians that had encroached on their territory.
It is, in fact, against the law for motorcyclists to come onto the sidewalk. The police, however, don’t seem to care as we haven’t seen any effective measure to stop this. So pedestrians may have come together and find another solution. This year, pedestrians like us may have to step up our game, campaign for our rights and make the authorities start doing something about it.
Horror Story 6: Taxis that never go where we want them to
Getting a taxi in Bangkok on your first try is like winning the lotto—you need tons of luck and to offer a fervent prayer. Ladprao? No. Ram-intra? No. Thonburi? No. The next soi? Still no. What the hell do you want to go? Bangkokians have tolerated these fussy, discriminatory drivers since, well, forever. Despite the law saying a driver will be fined if they refuse a passenger, these taxi drivers still have trillions of excuses up their sleeves: “Oh, I need to fill up on gas,” “I gotta return the car to the center,” “It’s too far. I’m already on my way home.” You slam the door and, five seconds later, he takes the farang couple standing three meters away (suspiciously, the red light on his indicator doesn’t go off). It gets even worse when it rains—it’ll take you 31 tries to finally get a cab.
You’d think cabbies would try to be more polite with services like Uber and Grab giving them competition. Not happening.
Horror Story 7: Expressways that ain't express at all
Yeah, that’s right. Sometimes we just wonder why we pay B50 just to get stuck on an elevated road. For better views of condominium towers and billboards, perhaps?
Horror Story 8: Trees that never grow
The trees that dot Bangkok’s sidewalks are as old as those in Singapore. Whilethose in the island-state are big and leafy, the ones in Bangkok remain as how they were 30 years ago. Apparently, we’re not the first ones to question this phenomenon. Activist group, Big Tree, has been campaigning against how the Bangkok Metropilitan Administration and Metropolitan Electricity Authority cut down trees to make way for electricity wires—and do a really bad job at it. We encourage these authorities to hire the services of an arborist that knows exactly how to cut trees to allow them to grow in a healthy manner.