With all the attributes of a megacity Bangkok can easily appear to predominantly be a city of the future and in search for the origins of Bangkok the first way usually leads to the city’s icons namely Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Vinmanmek Masion, etc. and then it’s back to the shopping malls or the hotel pool.
But what about those who are not content with a city tour comprising the main attractions? Those in search for traces other than temples that reflect the Bangkok of the early days?
One such place is the Pochinda residence. It’s not a palace or temple, it’s one of the oldest and last remaining residential buildings built by Chinese traders in the early days of Bangkok around 19th century. In the past Bangkok was a predominantly Chinese city and those interested in the historical roots of Bangkok will find that outside Rattanakosin Island (home to the Grand Palace, etc.) the Chinese community even predates the founding of Bangkok. It is thus the oldest community and not only a buzzing commercial center as it seems at first sight but rich in the history of Bangkok’s growth from a peasant community to a trading town.
The Pochinda residence is one fine example on how wealthy Chinese traders lived roughly 150 years ago but it’s unfortunately a very rare piece of Bangkok’s history. We were fortunate to getting to know the descendants of these Chinese traders, namely Khun Poosak and his mother, who is not only the local community leader but also the owner of the Pochinda Residence. Having the opportunity to talk to them helps us to better understand Bangkok’s history, its cultural heritage and identity and thus we decided to prepare an interview with them and would like to invite our bangkokvanguards community to submit their questions if there’s something they would like to know about this old Chinese home, Bangkok’s Chinatown and the Chinese community in Thailand.
With the interview we would like to share knowledge and insights and at best even help to preserve places like Pochinda Residence. Preserving history and ones roots is more important then ever given the rapid development that replaces integral parts of Bangkok’s and our identity for profitable highrise buildings.