Charoen Chai is an old Bangkok neighbourhood located between Charoen Krung and Plabpla Chai roads, from which names its own is believed to have been derived. In 2010, rumours that residents would be evicted to make way for the construction of a new underground train route (the MRT’s blue line) caused members of this century-old community to band together and form the Charoen Chai Conservation and Rehabilitation group in an effort to save their own homes.
The uncertainty caused by the impending redevelopment of the area acted as a catalyst, encouraging residents to dig deep into their family backgrounds and what they found gave them the confidence to share some valuable social history in this fascinating Thai-language account.
The story of this urban neighbourhood began in the late 19th/early 20th century with the arrival of the first Chinese immigrants who did odd jobs or worked as manual labourers to make ends meet. The book describes the modernisation of Charoen Chai, with low-rise wooden buildings being gradually replaced by concrete structures, some of the very first to be built in Bangkok.
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