Soi Phipat Shortcut

“Soi” is a commonly used word in Thailand. It roughly translates as “alley” and Bangkok is filled with these small lanes that feed off larger arterial roads like so many strands of narrow rice noodles in a bowl of guaytiaw. It is on these sois that some of the most interesting sights lie, away from the main thoroughfares and amidst the everyday lives of locals.

One Friday afternoon not too long ago, I had to go from Soi Convent, a pretty large street that connects Silom and Sathorn roads, to the Narathiwat intersection. Traffic was gridlocked on the main streets so I decided to walk. Instead of walking along the main road and inhaling the fumes of idling vehicles, I took a shortcut along Soi Phipat 2.

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This narrow soi connects from Convent to Narathiwat and passes all sorts of houses, shops, condos, and hotels. It is an older neighborhood, one that predates most of the buildings in this otherwise modern corner of the city. In the late afternoon, numerous vendors were setting up their carts. Smoke from freshly-started grills rose in thick clouds through which the sunlight sliced. The smell of charring chicken and pork made my stomach growl as I tried to hurry past so as to not arrive at my destination smelling too much of smoke.

Midway down the soi, I saw a large sign warning in Thai and English to beware of pick-pockets and bag-snatchers. I’ve been warned before that this soi, despite being in a very populated area adjacent to the main business district, is known for its risk of theft. Once, a year or so ago, I was walking down the street one afternoon and a Thai man was just standing by the side of the road in the shade. As I passed, he called out to me in English to be careful and watch out for pick-pockets. He then drew back his jacket so I could see the handle of a gun sticking out of the waistband of his pants. Very strange.

All the more strange because Bangkok isn’t a city in which I ever have any fear of crime. Sure, it happens here, but I don’t worry about it the same way I might when I’m in the US.

Anyhow, this afternoon I passed through Soi Phipat 2 with no incidents and arrived a few minutes later at my destination, a little sweaty and a little smoky but none the worse for wear.

 

0 thoughts on “Soi Phipat Shortcut

  1. Beautiful description and picture, Chris. I like the light and smoke. I’m puzzled why the man showed his gun – did he demand anything of you? Or did he mean “tell me you will be careful or I will shoot you now!”? Hah.

  2. Well, I guess it’s better in the day time; there may be scores of lady boys and bar girls in the evening near that area? I’m glad you got to your destination in one piece! 🙂

  3. @ClimbUpTreesToLookForFish – You know, while writing this I almost mentioned Mongkok, but decided not to. It sure is a lot better now than when I lived there in 1998-99, although two blocks from Langham Place you can still find brothels and gambling dens.@CurryPuffy – No, the area doesn’t have any ladyboys or bar girls and I think daytime is probably just as much an issue as nighttime. The problem, I think, is that the sois are very straight and lead directly to main roads so someone riding up on a motorbike could snatch a bag or rob you and then make a quick getaway.@stepaside_loser – I never understood what the implied message was. I assumed that maybe it was meant to be threatening and so I answered him in Thai, to show that I wasn’t just some tourist who could be easily cowed. 

  4. glad you made it through there safely! the secret is usually to look like you know what you’re doing and are confident; that usually avoids most problems.

  5. Strange walk for you but I found that as Aaron says look like you know what your doing and act confident and usually problems are avoided. That has been my experience when traveling.

  6. Hey there – its been a while since I have been on Xanga. Hope you are well.South Africa has very bad street crime but you learn to live with it. Most people shop at malls or shopping centres. If I did go and shop at street shops I would never carry a bag or answer a mobile phone. I would also not wear jewellery. South African women keep their cash in their bra’s. It is quite strange at first to see this. You would not see this with people who shop at centres but certainly with the average person it is very common. In fact I was mugged ten years ago and at first I thought I was being sexually assaulted. Turned out that they were just looking for my cash.

  7. Right when you said that the stranger pulled out and showed his gun… I was afraid that it was gonna turn into a bad story. I like the picture and I’m glad your story didn’t end up being a bad one where this shortcut ended up not being worth it. Are there many stands that sells snackfoods? Fishballs, etc?

  8. walking under a broad daylight might be better I guess. well, talking about HK, I can assure you that it is NOT as safe as before, though not talking about serious criminal cases, the pick pockets rate has gone up a lot not only in MongKok but all popular places which have lots of Shopping tourists from Mainland , they are either real shoppers or the thieves….just be careful with your back pack….

  9. The picture is very nice – especially the mixture of smoke and light. Do you carry anything to protect yourself? I have a knife but I’m sure it’s illegal if I carry it around.

  10. @murisopsis – Yes, that combination of smoke and light was really nice. Sadly, wherever you have people, you’ll have some who have bad intentions.@ElusiveWords – Glad you enjoyed the picture. No, I don’t carry anything to protect myself other than an awareness of my surroundings. I’ve never felt unsafe in Thailand.@agmhkg – Sad to hear that… well, that’s one reason I don’t like backpacks – I need my bag where I can see it.@Devilzgaysianboi – It’s all about the streetfood here, from noodles to soups, from fishballs to grilled meats.@Wangium – Generally, yes, although we have more political crime. Not unusual for political assasinations to happen.@Umnenga – Hey there – glad to see you again. Yes, I’ve heard from several people that crime in South Africa is pretty bad.@Fatcat723 – @kunhuo42 – That’s the James Bond trick, right? Act with confidence and people will assume you’re supposed to be there and won’t mess with you. 

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