Many adjectives apply to Bangkok: dirty, noisy, busy, but especially BIG, HUGE, and MASSIVE!
- I want to share some views of Bangkok’s skyline since readers in the West often don’t realize the dimensions of Asian cities.
For the sake of exploration, I climb the All Seasons Place Commercial Complex in Bangkok, Thailand.
Buildings as far as the eye can reach. This city never stops growing.
Attentive escape readers remember reading about the Sathorn Unique Tower, a 49 stories-high ghost tower in Bangkok’s city center. Clearly, not all large-scale construction projects have proven to be successful in the past. Today, however, Bangkok feels again like one large construction yard with tower cranes dotting the cityscape.
One big real estate bubble according to an ex-Goldman Sachs banker I spoke. He explained, “Think about it. To me it’s common sense. You see construction projects being launched every day and some of the projects are even sold before before completion. However, take a closer look and you notice that the occupancy rate of these high-rise building is low, very low. I’d say up to 50% of these fancy condos are empty.”
He continued with a sigh, “Everyone has clearly underestimated the demand-side in this entire game. How many people can afford renting or buying a 100k USD apartment? The amount of expats is lower than expected. Bangkok is not yet Singapore. Of course, there is a select group of Thai people who can afford such apartment. However, wealthy Thai will typically only buy the newest apartments or will wait because they know that new apartment blocks are completed everyday. There is a religious factor, too. Thai homebuyers are reluctant buying or renting property where a death took place – either a natural cause, accident, suicide, or murder – because they believe that the property is infested with ghosts or spirits of the deceased previous homeowner. Interestingly, the death also affects the sale or rent of an apartment on the same floor!”
Finally, he joked. “In this country, you should always monitor the health of your neighbors because once they die, it can influence the value of your apartment! What is true, is that there are some town houses for grabs, but only Thai can buy them. Anyhow, if I’d have 100k USD and would have the choice between buying a house in Europe and Bangkok, I’d choose the latter. At least it’s sunny.“
It reminds me of Dubai where the real-estate market completely collapsed between 2007 and 2010. There is a reason why the Burj Dubai was rebranded Burj Khalifa. We all too often forget this.
Back to the streets of Bangkok. Surprisingly, Bangkok is still remarkably walkable and a public transport system (BTS and MRT) serves the modern part of the capital, especially the shopping malls. Thou shall shop.
One of Bangkok’s highest skyscrapers is the All Seasons Place Commercial Complex, just next to the Conrad hotel. Some security staff wanders the building, but nobody really seems interested asking questions. Hooray for lousy security!
Enter a random elevator.
Select highest floor.
Exactly 49 floors higher, I exit the elevator and see that the top floor is (update: was; seems that a company has decided to pay the sky-high rent for the sky-high office) completely empty and could easily host a 500-person army of office workers. The 360-degree view is amazing and includes the Baiyoke Tower II -nicknamed BMW Tower because the tower consistently displayed BMW advertisements across its 85 floors- Bangkok’s highest skyscraper.