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.