2018 – ongoing
Only a few metro stops from Bangkok’s luxurious malls of the city center, one arrives at Khlong Toei, where Bangkok hides its slum in the same district with high-end hotels, parks and its Stock Exchange. With 100,000 people crammed into just over one square kilometre, such intense overcrowding means that at peak times there are bodies everywhere. Homes are so tiny so people do in public what they would normally do in private. It’s unavoidably intimate and for the residents of Klong Toei it’s just another day.
In recent years, Bangkok has awakened to the value of the many waterfront properties now occupied by depressed and dilapidated neighbourhoods. Since the 2014 coup, entire communities have been evicted from along the capital’s canals and the Chao Phraya River, where people had lived for decades or longer without formal ownership. Ambitions to remake the arterial river have now turned to Khlong Toei. Plans to transform Bangkok’s biggest slum into an Siam-like complex of shops, hotels, stores and more were announced in May 2018. As for the 13,000 or so families living there? They were labeled illegal squatters, and officials revived shelved plans to force them out.