From Corruption to Expression: Bangkok’s vanishing ‘Stonehenge’

Massive stone pylons reach for the sky for no clear purpose. Are they astrological guides to understanding the heavens or forgotten remnants of alien visitors? Or could they possibly be embarrassing reminders of one of Thailand’s most notorious corruption cases?

Saturday will mark 23 years since ground was broken on a THB80 billion project by the Transport Ministry, state rail authority and a Thai subsidiary of developer Hopewell Holdings of Hong Kong to erect an elevated train and rail line from downtown to Don Muang Airport. Allegations of corruption tained the project from the outset, and after missing major milestones, the Asian financial crisis of 1997 sealed its fate. Only 10 percent was completed.

The uncompleted support pillars went on to become known as the Stonehenge of Bangkok, which have become canvases for urban expression.

Both professional and amateur graffiti artists have sprayed many of the old pillars along Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road, turning them into a collection of visually arresting works that grab the attention of passers-by and motorists.

From a four-eyed Charlie Chaplin and cartoon characters to random cute animals, the temporary outdoor gallery is a perfect place for street-art lovers and photographers.

But not for long, as demolition work has begun to make way for the Bang Sue-Rangsit “Red Line” Skytrain extension. Interested observers are encouraged to check it out as soon as possible. But if you can’t – no worries – we’ve got a gallery featuring some of the work below.

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