It goes without say that change is part of life and in a massive city such as Bangkok that is inevitable as the old is replaced with the new but throwing away history and heritage at the expense of a ridiculous idea that will never work or take off is bewildering.
After 57 years of being one of the most recognizable street-scape signs on lower Sukhumvit, Wattana district officials ordered the removal of the historic Check Inn 99 street awning to make way for a new bicycle lane along the footpath. It was explained to management this will allow tourists on bicycles better access to shop at the night market stalls stretching from Soi 3 to Asoke.
The men in suits could not answer when asked how was this possible between Soi 5 and 7 as it has such high foot traffic at night.
This stretch of pavement is a nightmare at the best of times and negotiating your way along it between the stalls and shoppers can take forever with so little space. Throw in vendors who spread out like they own the place and tourists who stop in packs with pushchairs blocking the entire way doesn’t seem like a great place to put a cycle lane.
If city officials believe it will be kept clear to begin with then there is no doubt they are living in cloud cuckoo land let alone think tourists are going to hire a bike from the new rental stand further down Sukhumvit and cycle their way along the stalls to shop. What happens when they see something they like? Pull up alongside the stall drive-by style?
When the Wattana district officer (boss of the infamous “Cigarette Police”) stopped by for a meeting at Check Inn 99 last week advising that a summons would be issued unless the sign was removed he kept saying “Psychopath, Psychopath” when the manager was trying to air his views on the removal of the awning. This left manager Chris somewhat confused until the penny dropped and the guy was actually saying, “Cycle Path”. LOL.
Check inn 99 has been nominated by Trip Advisor as one of the Top Twenty Hidden Gems in the world (across 3.5 million listings) for two consecutive years (2013 and 2014) and that the sign might have had an element of heritage value just fell on deaf ears.