Riverfront property tends to go for a premium anywhere in the world. Even more so in developed countries where just being within eyesight of water can easily triple the value of a piece of land. You’d assume the same would hold true in Bangkok. Some of the city’s ritziest hotels call the banks of the Chao Phraya home, condos with views of the mighty river sell for millions of baht, a few of the country’s most revered temples sit at water’s edge, and the Grand Palace’s location might as well be called riverside it’s so close (and technically qualified for that distinction last autumn).
But mixed in with the opulent homes, royal properties, and commercial enterprises are a crushing jumble of homes built of scalvage. Within a minute of each other by boat you can see how the royals, the moneyed class, and Bangkok’s poor live. It’s an odd contradiction and a good example of why I’m so fascinated by Thailand. I haven’t a clue if those who live in the shacks that line the river’s banks own their land, possibly passed down through generations, or if they build on temple lands leased by the year. It could be nothing more than a claim of squatters’ rights. Undoubtedly within their class they are viewed as living like royalty. Though the royals probably don’t have to do their own laundry.
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