Photo Essay – Streets of Bangkok, Thailand
By CommNet Media
Wanderlust—or a passion for the nations—got you longing to travel? Come with us on a virtual visit to a busy, East Asian city. Bangkok, Thailand is home to millions and attracts tourists and other visitors from across the region and around the world. Let’s take a look.
Thailand’s Biggest City
It is estimated that the Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR) is home to almost 15 million people—more than 22% of Thailand’s total population. The potential for God’s glory to be seen in this city is incalculable.
Thousands of buildings inhabit the cityscape of Bangkok. Half are residential, each holding a microcosm of community that has everything it needs within walking distance. Church planters have been in Thailand for more than 100 years. Bangkok churches, however, are few.
The sheer volume of concrete and steel in Bangkok has created an urban heat island which makes the metro area an average of 6 to 7 degrees hotter than outside of the city, regularly pushing the mercury over 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
Long before COVID-19, face masks were ubiquitous in many Asian countries. From preventing flu transmission to protecting the wearer when air quality is questionable, they have been a common sight in Thailand. Face masks are available in many colors with branded versions from high-end retailers.
Getting Around Bangkok
Water taxis may be the most cost-effective transportation within Bangkok proper. Fares start at just over $.25 and can take you through an extensive transport system that either crosses or travels along the Chao Phraya River as well as certain canals.
The lower Chao Phraya River underwent several man-made modifications to bypass large loops in the river, shortening the trip from the capital city to the sea. Cities along the river are among the most historically significant and densely populated settlements of Thailand.
The Bangkok Mass Transit System, commonly known as the BTS or Skytrain, moves through 34 stations over 37 kilometers of track. In 2013 the system moved 600,000 passengers every day.
The total number of mobile phone subscriptions vs. the total population indicate that there are more phones than people in Thailand. Can the gospel spread through these digital networks and connect real people to Jesus?
Old and New
Port officials gather for lunch under the watchful eye of the nearby monastic compound. From ancient architecture to barbed wire and satellite television, Bangkok is a complex environment of yesterday’s traditions and modern innovation.
Thai culture has clearly embraced the selfie. Siam Paragon shopping mall (see below) was at one time the most Instagrammed location in the whole world! In the photo above, a Thai woman takes a selfie at the Erawan Shrine.
This Hindu shrine was built in 1956 at the advice of an astrologer to eliminate bad karma from the nearby Erawan Hotel. It all started when workers laid the foundation for the hotel on an unlucky date, leading to cost overruns and injuries during construction. So an astrologer suggested putting up a shrine. After that, construction continued without incident. The hotel was later replaced but the shrine remains. Hindus are a small percentage of Bangkok’s population but Hinduism has left its mark.
Chinatown is located in one of the oldest areas of Bangkok. Vendors have been coming to these streets since the 1800s, when it was the primary gathering place for Chinese traders operating maritime junks between Siam and China. The path of a main road through Chinatown is said to resemble a dragon’s curvy body, making it an auspicious place for business.
In some social circles, appearance is everything, and there is no shortage of retail therapy available. The burgeoning middle and upper classes are in need of nothing; you can help them in no material way. How will you reach them with the gospel?
One of a Buddhist’s most important tasks is to earn merit. Merit accumulates from good deeds or thoughts and is a key factor in determining the quality of life you will receive next. One way to earn merit is to give to the poor or disabled. Giving alms to monks/nuns, however, is more of a symbolic connection with Buddha, a way to show humility and respect.
Early morning fish markets are awash in bustling vendors, crushed ice and the pungent aroma of a city port. As the first customer of the day, don’t be surprised if the vendor lightly taps your bills on each remaining fish or crab to usher in good luck and more sales for the rest of the day.
Interested in serving in Thailand with Pioneers? We have Pioneers serving in many cities like Bangkok. Many of these cities are hot, crowded and a bit overwhelming. But if God is calling you to the nations, go where the people are.
Stories from the pursuit
Coronavirus Response Update
Pioneers teams have begun at least 33 new virus relief and response projects in 16 countries, working with local churches and ministries on the ground.
Video – Some Jungles Have Wifi
Bangkok has nearly 15 million people. Less than 1% of them follow Jesus. This place is hotter, harder and more resistant to the gospel than you can imagine.
Doing Justice, Loving Mercy, Walking Humbly
We earnestly pray that the gospel of Christ, the ultimate source of healing and reconciliation, may breathe hope and truth-inspired change into broken communities not only around the world, but also here in our own land.