Back in 1945, there was a movie called The Lost Weekend. It starred Ray Milland. He played a guy named Don Birnam. Birnam was an alcoholic. It was, apparently, in this movie that the term “concrete jungle” was first used. Birnam spoke of others like him in the concrete jungle, which apparently referred to the skyline of Manhattan.
Why do I bring this up? Well, the other day, I was in the core of Bangkok, where all the major shopping centres reside. This area is also the meeting place of two skytrain lines and as I looked around, the term concrete jungle seemed pretty fitting. The area, particularly when it has rained or when there is no sun, can look pretty dystopian. The concrete infrastructure used to support the skytrains and their platforms is everywhere and pretty much blocks out the sky and the nearby buildings. Stairs coming down to collect and eject passengers block the sidewalks. All of this skytrain stuff somehow totally redefines the term concrete jungle. This is the rain forest of the concrete world, where what’s down below has little access to what’s above.
The slide show will give you sense of what I mean. I’ve also included some shots of tuk tuks struggling through the traffic and a motorcycle making sure no one can walk on what little sidewalk the stairs from the skytrain have allowed to remain. And finally, there are some shots of the famous Erawan Shrine which is just underneath one of the skytrain platforms. This was the shrine that was bombed in 2015 by militants.
The skytrains have made getting around Bangkok simple and quick. Being able to avoid the traumatic traffic jams has made the city much more accessible. However, the columns, beams and stations have turned part of the city into a concrete jungle.