Bangkok shophouses are "pit or height of creativity", and either way are most remarkable

From Bangkok Post writer Usnisa Sukhsvasti: "I love Bangkok -- it's where I was born and bred -- but I do admit that Bangkok is not one of the most visually satisfying cities in the world to look at.  Our most marked and widespread architectural structures -- the ubiquitous hongtaew, or shophouse -- are the the pits, or the height of creativity, depending on which way you want to look at it. "More often than not, they are drab grey buildings with sad windows, torn awnings and a steel roll-down front gate for security purposes.  On the other hand, some shophouses have undergone some really creative makeovers, and proudly display a shocking-pink facade adjacent to a lime-green shop and a canary yellow one on the other side.

"However, the shophouses around Bang Lamphu and the old town areas have somehow managed to stay away from the prospect of shocking-pink facades.  In fact, they have recognised the beauty of their old style shophouses, and attempted to preserve them.  Admittedly, this has been done to cater to the demands of western travellers and customers who have probably told them how quaint the shop is.

"Now if you look around, you'll see that it's not unique to Bang Lamphu.  Singapore has its Haji Lane, Phuket has Thalang Road amongst others, and even Copenhagen has Nyhavn, to name a few.  It's wonderful that these old buildings have been recognised for their architectural heritage, and have been injected with a new lease of life.

"I drive past Bang Lamphu, and although these old shophouses now play club music and serve imported beer by night, they still present an old-time charm that modern buildings cannot emulate."  Full article here.