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Gigantic Bangkok, Old and New, Bridging East and West

Although thought of as the world’s most popular tourist destination, I am thinking of “retiring” here.

Bangkok. Welcome to Bangkok, where the old and the new seamlessly blend, creating a vibrant tapestry of culture, commerce, and tradition. As I navigate through this gigantic city with a heart, I can’t help but be enchanted by its rich history and its forward-looking spirit.

The Chao Phraya River, the lifeblood of Bangkok, winds its way through the city, connecting its past to its present. From the majestic Grand Palace to the bustling commercial district of Sam Peng, every corner tells a story of resilience and adaptation.

Wat Arun temple in Bangkok overlooking boat traffic on the Chao Phraya River.

In the heart of the city, you’ll find the traditional areas where the Grand Palace once stood as a testament to the city’s royal heritage. Today, the streets are lined with shop-houses that have evolved over the centuries, offering a glimpse into Bangkok‘s vibrant commercial past.

But Bangkok is not just about its ancient roots. Modernity has made its mark, with skyscrapers dominating the skyline and the bustling financial district of Silom Road pulsating with energy. The city’s transportation system has evolved, from the maze of canals that once earned it the nickname “Venice of the East” to the efficient Skytrain that now connects its sprawling neighborhoods.

Metro Rapid Transit Skytrain Blue Line crossing Chao Phraya River. Photo: MRT Bangkok Metro.

As I explore the city, I can’t help but be struck by its diversity. From the ethnic Thai majority to the vibrant Chinese and expatriate communities, Bangkok is a melting pot of cultures and traditions. It’s a place where the past coexists with the present, where ancient temples stand side by side with modern condominiums.

The Rama VIII Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge crossing the Chao Phraya River. Built between Opened in 2002, it was built to alleviate traffic on the nearby Phra Pinklao Bridge.

But amidst the hustle and bustle of urban life, there’s a sense of serenity that permeates the city. Whether you’re wandering through the tranquil gardens of the King Rama IX Royal Park or taking in a traditional Thai performance at the Silapakorn National Theatre, there’s always a moment of peace to be found in Bangkok.

Author on balcony of the Jim Thompson Museum, highly recommended, is built on one of the city’s many canals.

The Jim Thompson Museum is one such quiet spot. Jim Thompson’s Thai House, named for the U.S. entrepreneur and devotee of Thai culture, a graduate of Princeton and member of the precursor tot he CIA, the compound houses several traditional Thai mansions; it contains the country’s largest collection of 17th-century Thai religious paintings.

Author in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC).

The Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC) is another quiet place. This arts center a hub for the city’s contemporary art, design, music, theater, and film, and hosts exhibitions and performances in its spaces. The center also has cafes, art galleries, bookshops, craft shops, and an art library.

Modern medical facilities exist throughout the city. Here, my partner Bxx gets a dental check-up.

And let’s not forget about the food. From the tantalizing aromas of street food stalls to the gourmet delights of Michelin-starred restaurants, Bangkok is a paradise for food lovers. Whether you’re craving spicy tom yum soup or indulging in a decadent plate of pad Thai, the city’s culinary scene is sure to delight your taste buds.

In Bangkok, there’s always something new to discover, whether it’s a hidden temple tucked away down a narrow alley or a trendy rooftop bar offering panoramic views of the city.

It’s a place where East meets West, where tradition meets innovation, and where the past and the future converge in a vibrant tapestry of sights, sounds, and flavors. So come along and explore Bangkok, the city that truly bridges the gap between East and West.

Gigantic Bangkok, old and new, bridges East and West, with ancient bridges as well as super-modern ones such as this.

After 50 years in New York City, I will eventually want to “retire” – close to the countries we have worked in for the last 25 years such as India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. As well as near the countries I studied in, Japan and Germany. Gigantic Bangkok, both old and new, bridging East and West, seems to be the perfect hub.

Gigantic Bangkok, Old and New, Bridging East and West (May 5, 2024)

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© 2024 The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness – Towards Global Citizenship is published by The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation Supporting & Educating Young Global Leaders is affiliated with Orphans International Worldwide, Raising Global Citizens. If supporting youth is important to you, subscribe to J. Luce Foundation updates here.

Jim Luce
Jim Luce
Raising, Supporting & Educating Young Global Leaders through Orphans International Worldwide (, the J. Luce Foundation (, and The Stewardship Report ( Jim is also founder and president of the New York Global Leaders Lions Club.


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