Sukhumvit Soi 53 (“soi” is Thai for an alley or small street) is one of the nicer sois in Bangkok. There are generally walkable footpaths on both sides of the soi and several trees provide shade. So it was a surprise when, in a flurry of unexplained activity, green Bangkok Metropolitan Authority trucks descended upon our soi, removed footpath pavers, and planted hedge rows and new trees the entire length of the soi.
Not that I mind the extra attention and new landscaping, although it is rare to see government landscaping that is actually set into the soil – potted plants seem to be the norm. But this landscaping project doesn’t seem to be happening anywhere else, just on our already better-than-average soi. That seems suspicious.
Tawn and I spoke to the workers in front of our condo, who didn’t know much other than they were following directions from their superiors. This shot captures both the full range of landscaping being added – tall hedge rows in the back, trees in the middle, and short hedge rows in the front – as well as the asinine lack of planning resulting in some areas in an entirely blocked footpath.
“What could be going on?” I wondered to myself.
In some stretches of the soi, such as this barren patch, the new landscaping was a welcome addition. You can see where pavers have been removed near the curb in order to add hedge rows. The irony is that a few weeks later, these trees and the hedge rows in front of this house have been inexplicably removed.
In other areas, trees and hedge rows were being planted right in front of properties that already have very lush foliage. This seems a bit wasteful to me. The tall trees you see in the distance of this photo, the ones on the left-hand side, are pine trees. Some of them have been cut down as part of this process.
While we were viewing the planting, a neighbor came up and shared some gossip with us. The landscaping has been done because a very important person is moving into the soi. So important that, because of Thailand strict lese majeste laws, I can’t tell you who.
It has been three weeks since the landscaping and I haven’t seen any signs of the pomp, circumstance, and police that one would associate with that sort of VIP. But it seems likely that this one-off landscaping which isn’t happening anywhere else in our neighborhood, must be the result of someone important.
We’ll see if the rumors come true. Perhaps more importantly, we’ll see if the landscaping lasts.