You think Bangkok is dangerous because of political unrest or bad Nicholas Cage films? Think again – what’s most likely to get you is the everyday assault course known as taking a walk on a Bangkok sidewalk.
Bangkok is not a city built for pedestrians. While the infamous traffic gridlock has eased off since the arrival of the futuristic Skytrain and MRT subway public transport systems, Bangkok’s pavements remain an urban minefield that require you to be hyper alert lest you trip over, electrocute yourself or fall down a hole. This perpetual pedestrian obstacle course gets particularly interesting at night or if you’re drunk – or both. Here, then, are 12 ways to seriously injure yourself on a Bangkok sidewalk. There are more, but I’ve been in hospital recently…
The Bag Flag is a thoughtful warning to pedestrians to not break their neck falling down the hole left by random collapsing paving stones.
Almost invisible to the eye until you trip over it, this cunningly placed electrical cable powers a large advertising sign just out of shot. I wonder how many times the sign has been pulled over by pedestrians crashing to the pavement…
On the other hand, this is one of Bangkok’s Low Flying Spaghetti Monsters Of Death – these cables hang down to about 4 feet off the ground, perfect to entrap unwitting passersby.
Looking straight ahead when walking down a Bangkok street? Be prepared for something hard and invisible to send you flying. This lump of metal is the remnant of some previous installation, but no one could be bothered to file it down to the ground.
When you hit a wide, empty, blissfully flat expanse of pavement in Bangkok, you really need to start worrying. That’s because motorcylists (and this is the city of a million motorcycles) will also spot it and use it to escape the bumper to bumper traffic, with scant regard for traffic regulations or pedestrian safety. It’s not unusual to have a motorbike appear right beside you from behind, at speed, and not to have heard anything before it scares the crap out of you. Try not to jump in front of its wheels.
Some street signs in Bangkok are held up by steel hawser wires, triangulated from the sign to the sidewalk. The only problem is that the support wire is almost impossible to see until you walk straight into it. Ouch.
Sometimes the steel support wires are covered with a steel sheath to make them more visible – and provide a whole new set of sharp edges to hurt you.
However, sometimes thoughtful shop owners will provide a different version of the Bag Flag to warn oncoming pedestrians about the steel support wire, probably because they’re tired of having to pick up hapless strollers from the ground after colliding with it. This one is particularly nasty, a real cheesecutter right slap in the middle of the sidewalk.
Let’s put the telephone box in a place where it takes up the entire sidewalk so there’s nowhere to actually walk. Brilliant!
To be fair, many cities have this problem, but Bangkok seems to have it with every tree that’s been planted
You remember when you were a kid and you wouldn’t walk on iron grates set into the sidewalk for fear it might give way underneath you and you’d plunge down the hole? (No? Oh. Just me then). Well, in Bangkok, if you step on a grate or a manhole, it really might just give way. Hapless Bangkokians regularly fall down poorly sealed manholes, so much so a special taskforce was set up a couple of years ago to try and stop the problem.
And finally, the biggest problem for walking the sidewalk in Bangkok is when there is no sidewalk. Sometimes it just collapses into a big hole and gets left there for people to pick their way around.
On the upside, walking in Bangkok is never dull…