Embassies, Spirit Houses and Rain Trees: An Exploration of Bangkok’s Wireless Road
BTS and Garuda
Welcome the Wireless Road tour. The tour is dedicated to this amazing road and looks at history, culture and fun facts to help you see Bangkok in a different way.
You should be standing just outside the BTS Phloenchit turnstiles near Exits 1, 2 and 5.
My name is Paul and I am American that has had the great fortune of living in this neighborhood for several years. I was curious about what I passed while walking and that gave rise to this tour.
During the tour, I'll let you know when we'll be stopping along the way, but please be very careful when you walk: surfaces on this road are irregular and cars and motorcycles are often entering or exiting driveways. Always give the right of way to anything that contains more metal than you.
Before we get going, I'll briefly explain how VoiceMap works.
It uses your location to play audio automatically, at the right time and place. This means that you can put your phone away now. Don't worry if I'm silent for a while, when I'm not giving directions or telling stories. There's a map on your screen if you ever feel lost, and if you do get way off track without noticing, VoiceMap will let you know.
[2 SECOND PAUSE]
We'll be spending some time here above the ground before we get to street level.
So, let's begin!
[2 SECOND PAUSE]
Whether you rode the BTS or not, turn away from the turnstiles and look ahead and up.
[2 SECOND PAUSE]
Go under the overhead green sign that says Exit 2, walk a few feet and turn left.
Then stop in front of the BTS map.
[5 SECOND PAUSE]
The BTS system, unlike the underground MRT system, is run by a business not the government.
A developer family named Kanjanapas thought that it would be great to have a train running between a few of their buildings. They later proposed a 23 km route through Bangkok and the first two lines of the BTS system were opened in 1999.
BTS did not make money until 2008 and by 2013, the Kajanapas family took BTS public with an initial public offering that made them billionaires. Today, BTS continues to grow in size and popularity.
Now look beyond and to the left of the map.
Can you see a large, red half-man, half bird creature attached to a white building?
This creature, also appearing on your Thai money and on a few other buildings in Bangkok, is Garuda, or as the Thais call him, Phra Krut. Garuda was a lesser god in the Hindu pantheon when he was charged with taking an elixir of eternal life to his dying mother. On the way, he endured hardships, suffered greatly and nearly died. But he valiantly got the elixir to his mother. The God Vishnu saw this bravery, power, incorruptibility and selflessness and gave Garuda the elixir, ensuring his eternal life. Vishnu also hired Garuda to become his personal transport or mount, much like Indra’s mount is the three- headed elephant, Erawan.
Today, Garuda is the symbol of the royal warrant, given to companies and business that have shown exceptional services and commitment to Thailand’s development. This bank, like some others and the Central Department store nearby, gets to display the prestigious royal warrant.
One more quick note, the archer on the building above Garuda was placed there by the owner of the building to ward off negative energy that flows toward the buildings from BTS trains when they enter the station above you. The owner clearly believes in Feng Shui, since this archer and his twin on top of the next building, under the billboard, are designed to redirect that negative energy toward the three faces you see mounted on the center building. Apparently, using these two archers and the faces successfully protects the residents and businesses in this building.
Ok, let's move on.
Turn to your right and walk under the green Exit 5 sign then down about six sets of six stairs to the elevated platform over Wireless Road.
I'll meet you as you get to the platform.