The art of being a Bangkokian

The art of being a Bangkokian

Because not everyone is cut from the same cloth


Despite the common perception that Bangkok is one of the most exciting and convenient of cities to live in, surviving this concrete jungle requires its inhabitants have far more than thick skin and a love for shopping malls. This entails a certain know-how, a knack of knowing-how-to-get-s***-done, or as we like to call it, the art of being a Bangkokian.

How do you know if you have this certain je ne sais quoi, you ask? Well, it's definitely not in your ability to recite all the BTS stops nor is it about writing down the capital's really, really long name.

This week, Guru has compiled a check list that allows you to see whether you're an amateur or an expert Bangkokian. Or maybe you're just a breed of your own! Remember Dear Readers, not everyone is cut from the same cloth.


Amateur: Only in desperate times do you risk your life on this two-wheeled, accident-ridden mode of transport. You cling on for dear life and keep telling your motor sai guy that you're not in that much of a rush and asking if he could please just slow the f-down.

Expert: You have your motor sai guy on speed dial, you know him by name and you two have a daily arrangement of a precise pick up and drop off time. He knows your schedule more than your parents do. You're so comfortable on a motor sai that you even use it as an opportunity to dry out your sweat patches and reply to those unanswered Line messages.


Amateur: You avoid the pavement altogether, walking on the main road, only to be honked at to get out of the way by angry drivers.

Expert: You've taken a few hits, but you've got this urban minesweeper game under the belt and remember exactly where to step so that you don't fall over and get splashed with some unidentifiable liquid. Crooked tiles only mean one thing: skip. Gutter: jump. Hanging wires: bob and weave, baby.


Amateur: You've figured out all the spots on Sukhumvit Road in the left lane where you can just breeze through the red lights.

Expert: Every short cut is embedded in your memory, as are the roads to take and avoid at certain hours of the day. You've got your JS100 application ready at hand. And you're certainly not stupid enough to drive on the last Friday of the month, A.K.A pay day.


Amateur: Your eyes are like eagles with index finger ready on the emergency button of your car, ready to pounce on any parking spots available at the malls on weekends.

Expert: Designated parking areas are for newbs. You know that parking inside shopping malls –especially during weekends – are a complete nightmare. Your solution is simple. You park somewhere else completely. Going to EmQuartier? Park at a friend's condo on Sukhumvit Road. No parking stamps required, zero parking fee. Going out for dinner on Thong Lor and absolutely dreading going round and round J-Avenue parking lot? You give your friend a quick call (you know, the one who resides in that fancy townhouse compound on the opposite side of the road), next thing you know you're picking the car up in the morning after one too many cocktails. They don't mind, provided you buy them a pint or two every once in a while.


Amateur: You know that watching a film on Wednesdays will score you the cheapest tickets and you redeem all your DTAC rewards for further discounts and free popcorn.

Expert: You've devised a clever plan that lets you skip the queue but in a way that isn't too obvious and makes you seem like a total jerk to the rest of society. You book your seats online, line up in the special area for pre-booked tickets where there's only one person in front of you, only to be told you've lost your seats because you have to be there one hour before screening. But you already knew that. You apologise and say, “It's fine, we'll just take other available seats then.” The ticket vendor processes your order and you get inside the theatre just in time for the last trailer. Sound familiar?


Amateur: You use the overhead pass, BTS and MRT stations as walkways to get to the other side.

Expert: Stairs? What a waste of energy. You team up with the herd of people nearest to you waiting to cross the road. If the cars are coming from the right, you make sure you stand on the left side of the group so if something goes wrong it's less likely to hit you first.


Amateur: You hit up the latest joint a few weeks after its opening, finding it's way too crowded, you can't get a seat and you end up going home and crying about the expensive cocktail you didn't even like.

Expert: You make a deal with one of your friends to get to the bar/club early, reserving a table and doing some recon first. You don't forget to buy them a few drinks to say thank you for sitting practically alone in a bar for two hours while reading the drinks menu over and over again and listening to the band/DJ do sound check.


Amateur: You still struggle with how to dress appropriately for Bangkok. One minute it's sweltering hot, the next, you find yourself shivering inside a shopping mall.

Expert: You've learned that the best way you won't be caught between the two extremes of hot and cold is to get your layers game on. That way you can always take off or put on more depending on the temperature of the locale. You always pack a scarf for cinema outings, a hand-held fan for when you're eating at your local food stall and a mini umbrella for when rain fails to alert the meteorologist that it's about to start.

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