Oh, Chula, you had my interest with the words Art Town, but you delivered so much more.
Chula Art Town has breathed life into the Suan Luang, Sam Yan and Siam Square areas around Chulalongkorn University. Along with some imaginative new development and a good dose of traditional Thailand, this is not to be missed Bangkok. Chula, as it is lovingly known, is Bangkok’s oldest and most prestigious university. Long regarded as Thailand’s best for inspiring the hearts and minds of its students, it’s interesting to see how The Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts and friends, are celebrating their 36th Anniversary. The Art Town walk is a collaboration between students, professors, and 50 street artists under the supervision of the Property Management Office Chulalongkorn University (PMCU) through ATM Spray (Graffiti community.) Chula Art Town walk is my new favourite place to take overseas visitors.
You’ll get all the Bangkok feels in one small area: it’s authentic, raw Bangkok, meets modern, edgy Bangkok. One minute you’re tripping over the potholed roads and uneven pavements, dodging hanging wires, watching soapy water cascading down the outside of a building as someone has a shower inside. The next, you are admiring the new trendy buildings of Dragon Town, or swinging high in the lush green oasis of Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park. Or maybe you’re buying a coconut from a street vendor outside the Police Station slightly bemused by the changes, the people, the interest, as she hacks her billhook into the coconut as has been done for many generations…There’s a whiff of fine ground coffee in the air and you’re tempted, but you can’t decide whether it’s coffee or butterfly chicken hot from the street that you really want…Won’t you take a stroll with me? You can either approach from the Rama 4 (San Yan BTS station end) or from the National Stadium BTS, Rama 1 side (as the photos below show).
I’m starting with the football wall so race you there! Many Thais love football and as a crazy soccer Mum, I’m excited about this find. I mean who didn’t love the Thai women’s football team just a little bit more after their dignified 13-0 loss to the eventual World Cup champions USA in the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup?
A walk of contrastsWALK :
Crossing CU Centenary Road, the red and bold architecture of the Suan Luang Square beckons. The soon to be open, bright boutiques and eateries offer an appealing contrast to the shabby pink architecture across the way. Next door the Dragon Town development, equally as new, features a four storey high beast which guards the entrance on Soi Chulalongkorn 5 Chula.
If you climb up for a closer inspection of the dragon, you will find the House of Papa Hotel, Bangkok with an attractive coffeeshop and inviting garden. (Dragon Town on the 2nd floor Soi Chula 5 曼谷 歡迎 你們, 来 来 休息 在 屋 屋) The next artwork was tricky to find… but that’s half the fun. This is like one big art treasure hunt, did you find it? Spoiler alert – look behind the temple to the right. The monotone painting fits Dragon Town’s unpolished concrete wall perfectly. Elegant, alluring and oh so full of charm. Someone has thoughtfully added their own creation of broken pavers in front. Don’t you just love this? Lift up an area and everyone rises to contribute. Back on CU Centenary Road to find is an enormous cheeky monkey amidst Chinese pagodas and lanterns. A nod to the Chinese heritage in the area perhaps?Further down, facing the park, all eyes are on the wondrous third eye creation above the store with its blue awnings and my perfect gotcha moment: A Tuk Tuk beautifully positioned in front of the shop – yay love it!
Next, you are drawn up into the green lung of Chula Art Town, the CU Centenary Park. In its own right a bright jewel in the area. It is an impressive oasis, full of gardeners and interesting features.Try the swings or make the water splash on the pond by using the bicycle wheels, or just find a shady tree and watch the world go by… Emerging back onto CU Centenary Road you’ll discover another monstrous bright collaboration of artists. The metal fencing and the dilapidated feel of the building, with an old and hopeful Mercedes Benz sign, of once better times, draws you into the conclusion that this faded glory of a place is having its own renaissance. Beside the old relocated Sam Yam market runs a long wall, where you will find flowers and birds, children’s faces and a whole plethora of other artwork.
It is the scale of many of the street art designs which is impressive. They are all Big with a capital B. Do you have a favourite yet? This was one of ours! I can see each one of these becoming a popular place for photographers and selfie enthusiasts to enjoy. Below for the foodies amongst you! I love this setting for the crazy motorbike taxi rider fighting his way along the road under the wires. As we approach the pastel geometric design created by the alumni of Chula University, we can see the surrounds are still a work in progress. But new pavements are going in – way to go Bangkok! The next stop at Johnny’s Restaurant is a hot pink one and sure as noodles are noodles, a location that will be smashing it as an Insta-fav spot. Who can resist buying a bowl of noodles from the shop next door for an obligatory noodle and chopstick selfie photo?! Over the road, Tortuga – Art and Weird Cafe seems appropriately named and beckons in for a wonderfully cooling respite from Bangkok’s hot summer walking conditions.
Found at : 262 ซอย จุฬาฯ 11 Khwaeng Wang Mai, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330
I hope you’ve enjoyed the Chula Art Walk. It is a fabulous initiative that will continue to expand with more street art due to be added. Given the art setting on the vibrant streets of Bangkok, it is something you can return to time and time again. No two visits will be the same and every visit is free! Do you have a favourite painting?
Little Wandering Wren is a Bangkok blogger who set up her empty nest in Bangkok, whilst accompanying her husband for work three years ago. You can catch up with her wanderings and birds-eye view of the world at littlewanderingwren.com or via Instagram/twitter @lwwren.