Outside Meters

Water and electricity meters here are still always located outside the gate on the main road. Easily accessible for the monthly readings (every month a guy will come to read the meters), and hardly any problems with theft or damage. In case we've forgotten to pay last month's water bill, the guy will close the green tap as a pre-warning.

Bamboo ladders and Electricity Cables

The use of bamboo ladders is still a common sight even in Bangkok, and electricity cables are always in full view, looking all ugly but easily accessible.

Yakult Lady

For many years the Yakult-lady has been a common sight in the sois. Yakult is a Japanese milk-product supposedly good for the intestinal flora and against obstipation. On the motorcycle with a big cool box on the back, she goes covered from head to toe (as not to get a tan I presume) and delivers usually small quantities of Yakult regularly.

Winter

When the temperature falls below 25 degrees, dogs start wearing t-shirts. Even the street dogs are made to wear them.

Songbirds

Very popular with the Chinese-Thai part of the population. Birds are kept in beautifully carved (but small) cages and sometimes take part in singing competitions.

Flags

Many houses have flags out in the front permanently. Usually there are two flags: the Thai flag (red-white-blue-white-red) and yellow royal flag. When the time comes for the HM the King's birthday, people will become more serious about decorating their house with royal portraits, flashing lights and more flags.

Show your Gate

Even though townhouses are all delivered in the same style, every respectable house changes its gate to stainless steel, gold-painted wrought iron, wood or other metal to express the personality of the owners. Houses with the original gate usually don't have the original colour; most people paint it to their own taste.

Space Problems

Most people seem to have a space problem, as they buy or keep too much stuff. Many Thai houses have lots of stuff stored in front of their house, and having lots of boxes inside the house is no exception.

Thai-Chinese Decorations

House owners of Thai-Chinese background usually decorate their house outside with typical decorations and inside often have an altar of sorts. When we moved in, we were not allowed to move any of these, as that would bring bad luck.

The Shop

The neighbourhood shop is often a chaotic little shop with canned and dried food, drinks, washing powder, candy, cooking oil and other daily necessities of life. The only fresh product they normally have is eggs. In my soi there are at least 5 of these shops within 500 meters of my house.

Spirit Houses

Many houses have a small spirit house in the garden. Spirit worship is an animist ritual that predates Buddhism. Benevolent spirits living in the house protect house, garden and business of the owner. Spirit houses are usually shaped like traditional Thai houses, although I have seen some modern designs too. Often decorated with little people and animal figures, the spirits are offered flowers, incense and small quantities of food and drink at regular intervals.

Mailboxes

Mailboxes are not standardised and many people have more than one. Newspapers routinely have their own mailbox, used exclusively for that paper...

Street Dogs

Like every soi in Thailand, our soi houses lots of stray dogs. People feed them, so they stay and multiply. They never look healthy, often with a bad skin or other disease, and you don't want to go anywhere near them. Some of these dogs were once house dogs, banned to the street when they became too much trouble for their owners.

Rubber Garbage Cans

Old truck tires in Thailand are often re-used as garbage cans.

Drying Meat

On sunny days this vendor dries her meat in front of the house. Never mind the dust and pollution.

Elephants

Traditionally the elephant in Thailand is a proud animal, but currently it's only pitiful. Regularly one can see elephants in the streets of Bangkok. They come from the countryside (Surin area), driven to Bangkok by poverty. There are no regular jobs for elephants anymore now that logging is illegal. A mahout (the driver) usually sits on top and is accompanied by a few walking men selling fruit. Buying the fruit makes the elephant happy (he has a nice snack) as well as the men (they will be able to eat later on). Because they walk on the streets, they're regularly involved in accidents, despite the reflectors the elephants have on their tails and hind legs. To feed or not to feed is the question.

Snakes


Snakes are quite common even in the city. This snake at the entrance of our soi must've eaten a cat or a puppy, it was huge! It was also spitting poison when the owner of the house threatened it with a stick.

Man in black

This cycling salesman visits our soi every week. On the back of his bike he has a container with a mix of black dye and water, heated by wood. If you want to refresh the colour of your black clothes, he's the one.

The Mobile Market

Noodles, fruits, ice cream and vegetables salesmen come to the soi every day. This man sells sold-style coffee, ice tea and other drinks.

Pink

Since HM the King Rama IX wore pink when he visited his sister in hospital, wearing a pink polo shirt is all the rage and for sale everywhere.

Green

The soi is kept green by the house owners. There's no space for public green or pavement.

The Fresh Market

In many sois the fresh market is never far away and visited often to buy meat, fish, vegetables and fruit. In my soi there's a fresh market 4 times a week.

The Temple

Temples are plenty and spread all over town. Sois that have a temple can be recognised by an arch with the name of the temple at the soi entrance. Whenever I walk out of my soi, I can see the beautiful temple further down the road.

Countryside in the City (1)

Many people from the provinces live and work in Bangkok and bring their local habits to town.

One of my neighbours has a pig as pet. He walks the pig like he walks a dog, always cleaning up after him. The pig's still growing, and has become so big that the man can't always control where it goes. A very amusing sight to see him being dragged along by the pig sometimes.

Countryside in the City (2)

Another guy in my soi raises fighting cocks. They're kept under a straw basket but let out to roam for themselves if the owner is around. A few weeks ago I even spotted a foldable cockfighting pit on the back of a pickup truck where a cockfight was taking place!

Dengue Fever Prevention

The local government regularly sprays pesticide to prevent dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease prevalent in Thailand in the rainy season. The mosquitoes develop in stagnant water.