Sunday, 16 January 2011

Thai Port territory

Today I visited the HDF Mercy Centre in Klong Toey, Bangkok, the place I plugged in my Christmas blog. The Centre itself was a very interesting and cheerful place and well worth a visit for anyone who can donate time to help out - teaching, entertaining, cooking or child caring, etc. - or  donate cash or goods.

I had never visited the proper Klong Toey district before and I was taken by the character of it. There are slums, real slums with homes basically made out of loose metal parts. There are also

modern and up-market buildings. However the majority of the area is made up of narrow sois in the traditional working-class Thai make up. People go about their way selling goods from a stall, laying bricks or doing whatever else they do all day, every day. Children gaze and call out, smiling cooks serve up cheap and tasty khao pat and so on.

With the exception of the Thai Port Authority docking area, it could be any one of many parts of Bangkok. One thing makes it different though, and that's the number of people wearing shirts of their local team -  the bright stripes of Thai Port's home shirt walked or motored past me every ten minutes.

Clearly the camaraderie and sense of community in Klong Toey has been enhanced by the local football team. This is something we English are familiar with but it's a new
phenomenon in Thailand and let's hope it grows. Of course, in the case of Thai Port we must also hope the community erase the minority of trouble-causers from their ranks, too.

I played a quick game of footie with some locals and called them to take a picture. They were all very happy to do so and pulled some great poses at the the exact time my Blackberry battery decided to die on me. Never mind though, I'll be back soon and I'm sure they'll still be there.


  1. Very interesting artice, Greg. Good on you for highlighting the work of the HDF Centre. I'll definitely pay a visit and donate a few quid next time i'm in Bangkok.

    I've also strolled around Khlong Toei on my own a few times (despite being warned against it by concerned locals). It was certainly an eye opener, but the warmth and generosity of the people was overwhelming. I spent 6 months travelling the length and breadth of Thailand and the people I met in Khlong Toei were the friendliest in the country.

    * I believe that alcohol will be banned from PAT Stadium this season. If so, let's hope that it will help to eradicate crowd problems.