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Reviving Bangkok’s Klong Ong Ang: Chadchart Sittipunt’s Vision for Cultural Oasis Amidst Neglect

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Once upon a time, nestled in the heart of Bangkok’s bustling Samphanthawong district, Klong Ong Ang shimmered as a beacon of urban rejuvenation. It wasn’t just any canal; it was an emblem of hope, a testament to what community collaboration and visionary urban planning could achieve. Sadly, recent chatter amidst the digital grapevines highlights a tale of forgotten glory, igniting concern and sparking a journey to uncover the truth behind the transformation of this once-celebrated landmark.

In the kaleidoscopic sprawl of Bangkok, Saphan Lek Market had been a hive of activity since 1983, where over 500 vendors unfolded their wares daily, creating a vibrant tapestry of commerce. Space became a premium commodity, leading ingenious vendors to spill their shops onto the streets and, eventually, to annex the aquatic realm of Klong Ong Ang itself. But in 2015, a wave of change swept through when the then-governor Aswin Kwanmuang ignited a project aimed at injecting life back into the neighborhood. A whopping 400 million baht later, a scenic 1.5-kilometre promenade emerged, transforming the space into a cultural artery pulsating with life, art, and greenery, ultimately clinching the United Nations’ Human Settlements Programme Asian Townscape Award.

However, as with all tales, shadows loom. The current governor, amidst swirling rumors and pointed lenses capturing the canal’s sorry state, seems less enthralled with this urban jewel. Images of dereliction flood social media, painting a gloomy picture: vehicles brazenly snatching pedestrian sanctuaries, artworks languishing in neglect, and the homeless finding refuge along its banks. Concerns voiced by the public and former deputy governor Kriangyos Sudlabha echo through the alleys of Bangkok, pleading for a resurgence of attention and care towards Klong Ong Ang.

Yet, amidst the whispers of decay, Governor Chadchart Sittipunt stands firm, advocating for the empowerment of local vendors and the canal’s unique identity. His vision? To weave Klong Ong Ang into the fabric of Bangkok’s vibrant community tapestry, emphasizing sustainable tourism and cultural authenticity that resonates far beyond its waters.

The locals, the lifeblood of Klong Ong Ang, share tales of woe and resilience. Thanawat Ekchayangkoon, a vendor seasoned by the ebbs and flows of Saphan Lek’s fortunes, witnesses the area’s vibrancy dimming, its pulse weakening in the post-pandemic world. Jeab, a once-frequent visitor, laments the lost luster, craving the return of the canal’s bustling charm.

In a spirited response to the clamoring voices, the BMA unfurls plans to resuscitate Klong Ong Ang, envisioning a sanctuary where art, nature, and commerce dance in harmony. Collaborative efforts aim to crown the canal as a romantic haven, brimming with artistic expressions and floral delights, while intertwining its story with the broader narrative of Bangkok through initiatives like the Chao Phraya Sky Park linkage.

Klong Ong Ang, with its undulating waves of fortune, stands at a crossroads between neglect and nirvana. As the community, authorities, and visionaries ponder its fate, the tale of Klong Ong Ang continues to unfold, a captivating chapter in the saga of Bangkok’s relentless spirit of rejuvenation. Will it reclaim its spot as a jewel in Bangkok’s urban crown, or fade into the backdrop of the city’s bustling life? Only time will tell, but hope, like the waters of the Klong, flows eternal.


  1. RiverSong March 17, 2024

    Such a shame to see Klong Ong Ang in its current state. I remember the promenade being full of life, art, and people. It was a real community effort that turned it around the first time. Why can’t we keep that momentum going?

    • Bangkokian101 March 17, 2024

      I totally agree! It’s all about maintaining what we’ve accomplished rather than just looking for new projects to start. There’s a need for continuous engagement, not just a one-off effort.

      • ArtLover March 17, 2024

        Exactly! Regular events and art installations could help. Keeping the community involved is key. Maybe art competitions for local artists?

    • PracticalPat March 17, 2024

      The problem is funding and priorities. There are so many issues the city faces, from pollution to housing. Sadly, maintaining a cultural site falls lower on the list.

      • RiverSong March 17, 2024

        Understandable, but it’s about balance. Culture and community spaces are essential for the soul of the city. Can’t just focus on the practical.

  2. EcoWarrior March 17, 2024

    Everyone’s missing the point about environmental sustainability here. Reviving Klong Ong Ang is not just about culture and community; it’s about creating green, sustainable spaces in urban areas.

    • TechieTom March 17, 2024

      True, but how do we guarantee sustainability? Solar powered lights along the walk? Rainwater harvesting for the plants? There’s potential but needs a solid plan.

      • GreenThumb March 17, 2024

        All great ideas! Add to that community gardening projects. It’s about making sustainability visible and engaging. Show the benefits!

  3. HistoryBuff March 17, 2024

    We’re looking at this all wrong. Klong Ong Ang’s significance isn’t just its recent revival but its historical value. Preserving it is about paying homage to our cultural heritage.

  4. MarketMaven March 17, 2024

    What about the vendors though? Everyone talks about beautification and culture, but those vendors depend on their sales for livelihood. I hope their needs are considered in any redevelopment plans.

    • SustainableSue March 17, 2024

      The key could be integrating them into the plans. Make the vendor stalls part of the attraction – promote local crafts and foods. It could enhance the cultural experience and help the vendors.

    • VendorVoice March 17, 2024

      Finally, someone thinking about us! We want to be part of the solution. We love Klong Ong Ang and want it to thrive, but we need support to adapt and grow with the changes.

      • RiverSong March 17, 2024

        That’s the spirit! The community includes everyone. Maybe a collaborative approach where vendors are given a voice in planning could work wonders.

  5. GlobeTrotter March 17, 2024

    Visited Bangkok last year and missed checking out Klong Ong Ang. Sounds like a missed opportunity. I believe in the power of such places to attract tourism, which in turn can fund maintenance and more projects.

  6. Joe March 17, 2024

    Is this another case of government promises falling short? It seems like the initial effort was there, but follow-through is lacking. It’s not just about the money; it’s about continuous commitment.

    • Bangkokian101 March 17, 2024

      Exactly. It’s frustrating! There’s so much potential in Bangkok for cultural revival, but it demands sustained effort and vision.

      • PoliticalPete March 17, 2024

        The problem’s bigger than just Klong Ong Ang. It’s governance, priorities, and public involvement. Cultural projects need public support but also efficient, transparent management.

  7. Disenchanted March 17, 2024

    All this talk of renovation and culture is fine, but who looks out for the homeless mentioned in the article? Seems like they’re just seen as part of the ‘decline’ rather than people needing help.

    • EmpathyEmma March 17, 2024

      You make an excellent point. Any revitalization project should include social services and support for the homeless. Their needs must be part of the conversation.

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