How A City Can Change Over Time Or Not

People always talk about how places change so fast, how only ten years ago things were so different. Bangkok in Thailand is no different, only that time there seems to be running on high speed!

Changes In Bangkok

During the end of our 10 day stay in Bangkok, we found this really nice street food restaurant on a small side street off Soi Samsen road. The street was quite empty, there were only a few other street food restaurants nearby, although when we went there this was the only one which was open.

7 weeks later we returned to the same street (after having traveled through Laos & Cambodia), but instead of the cute street restaurant we found a huge luxury 5-star hotel – open for business. First we thought we had ended up on the wrong street, since we didn’t recognize any of the restaurants, funky bars and huge 7-eleven shop, and especially not a luxury resort.

Well, after a second look, we found that the little street stall restaurant we used to go to was still there, hidden by all the glamor from its neighbours, although it wasn’t open for business.

The quiet little side street had in about 7 weeks turned into a really cool area with some awesome eateries and a massive 7/11.

This wouldn’t ever have been able to happen in cities like London, but in Bangkok it is more than possible – it’s simply how it is, with everything in Bangkok!

Nothing ever stays the same: Different owners, different shops, new houses, everything is constantly changing.

People say that at some point everyone will eventually find themselves visiting Bangkok, and although I wasn’t too keen on going back there – I must admit that seeing how much had changed in only 7 weeks ago, I’d like to come by every year or so just to see what else has changed.

Changes In Kuala Lumpur

Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, things didn’t seem to have changed that much.

It had been two years since we were there last time, so after spending some time in Southern Thailand we decided to head down to Malaysia to see what had changed. We went to the same hostel we had stayed at last time, and everything was still the same.

We went to India street, and found the same restaurants which looked the same as last time.

The only thing that seemed to have changed was the old graffiti tag on a wall, which was now half painted over …

2009 vs 2011:

Have you ever gone back to a city and been surprised over how much or little things have changed? Share your thoughts below!

6 Responses to How A City Can Change Over Time Or Not

  1. Runaway Brit May 1, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    I lived in Vietnam for three years and was constantly surprised by how fast buildings were knocked down and replaced. I left in July last year and friends have told me that I would not recognise parts of the city centre. Sadly they have demolished a row of beautiful colonial buildings to make way for another glass-faced mall full of shops that nobody can afford.

    I would love to go back before they replace all of Saigon’s character with sterile department stores. Such a shame if it becomes another Singapore!!

    • Sofia - As We Travel May 3, 2011 at 9:44 am #

      Yeah it’s a real shame. I hope I get to see it too before they change too much.

  2. Anthony May 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    I used to hate going through Bangkok and I loathed having to stay there. But more recently I have learned to love the City for what it is. We have stayed there twice in the last year for two weeks each time and we started to discover cool little places away from the backpacker circuit. I was amazing to watch the changes that took place between the time we were away. I guess it is a developing city and it is a lot easier to get things approved for building or may not even need approval at all. To bad about you restaurant.

    • Sofia - As We Travel May 3, 2011 at 9:53 am #

      We didn’t really like it the first time either, but like you say, once you’ve found those little special places it’s more enjoyable.

  3. Skott May 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    I first was in Byron Bay, Australia in 1996-97…it was paradise! There was no doubt that this was a place where backpackers loved to hang out for weeks and months, and the town definitely catered to that, but it was still relatively chilled out….fast forward to 1999, and I could feel the change immediately. I got off the bus, and there was just a lot more going on….it had gone from a small town, to almost a small city – this place was buzzing…3 more hostels had gone up, there was a Subway restaurant….another nightclub, and suddenly internet cafes were everywhere too (not quite the case in 1996 – I actually wrote postcards, not emails!)

    At first I was bummed out by this, the “new” Byron Bay grew on me eventually too. As we plan our upcoming RTW, I have mixed feelings about checking it out 10 years later….do I just keep the memories I have, or go there and hope that my one-time paradise doesn’t appear scandalously over-commercialized?

    • Sofia - As We Travel May 3, 2011 at 10:02 am #

      I think change is something you can’t avoid, and I think it’s wise to give it a chance like you did and let it “grow on you” so that eventually you will see the good bits.

      Unfortunately, Byron Bay has probably only changed for the worse. I was there in 2008 and left only a day later because I just couldn’t stand it, it felt really fake and commercialized.

      But there will always be new unspoilt places popping up as travelers look for other options and seek away from the beaten tracks.