Flak jackets, not face masks, required gear in Sattahip’s ‘Gangster Community’

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Signs of the times? In the “Gangster Community” the Sukhumvit Road guideposts are full of bullet holes.

America had the “Wild West”. Sattahip’s Nong Yai Noi Community could be called the “Wild East”.

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The run-down neighborhood straddling Sukhumvit Soi 23, known locally as Soi Thepprasit Taotan, is pockmarked by derelict houses with open lots outnumbering houses the closer one gets to the Highway 332 onramp.

Locals call it the “Gangster Community”.

You’ll know you’ve entered the Wild East by the look of the Sukhumvit Road guideposts. They’re full of bullet holes.

Sattahip District has replaced them before, but the guideposts remain target practice for drunks and hooligans who loiter on the roadside, drinking rotgut whiskey and showing off for fellow ne’er-do-wells by popping off rounds from their cheap pistols. Occasionally they miss and shoot another lout, or the guns blow up in their faces.

“Proper” Thais move through that section of Sukhumvit as fast as they can. The few good ones left in the neighborhood bolt their doors.

With the current coronavirus crisis, poverty has only increased in the Gangster Community and the crime gotten worse. Perhaps, one day, the Bangkok types speeding by in their Benzes and BMWs will do something about Thailand’s income inequality. But no one is the Wild East is holding their breath.