Cycling through the streets of this great city we, and our guests, are very fortunate to experience the daily Bangkok street life up close and we take every opportunity possible to share these experiences with you.
“On our Siam Boran and Siam Chiva Bangkok bicycle tours we always cycle through the small but interesting Haroon Muslim community and last week we met Khun Abdulormarn outside his local shop.” Ar: tour guide at Follow Me Bangkok Bicycle Tours
Khun Abdulormarn’s convenience store, a very modest and typical Thai shop house that mainly serves local residents in his immediate neighbourhood, is hidden away within the maze of alleyways and back streets that feed a small thriving close knit Muslim community nestled between the Chao Phraya River and Charoen Krung Road. The modern buildings of Bangkok’s vibrant business district seem to cast their ever-encroaching shadow over this peaceful century old community.
The residents of the village mainly live in small wooden houses, some of which are beautifully decorated with ornate carvings, and for decades they have lived in the same way maintaining their traditions whilst at the same time managing to adapt to the inevitable changes that come when surrounded by a rapidly developing metropolis.
At the heart of the village is the Haroon Mosque where Khun Abdulormarn, waking up at 5:00am, prays daily along with up to 500 other Muslims. In Thailand Islam is a minority faith accounting for an estimated 6% of the population with almost 1/5th living in the southern provinces of Thailand. Khun Abdulormarn is one of the estimated one million Muslims living in Bangkok city today that can trace their roots back to the southern provinces.
The history of Bangkok’s Muslims is rather sad, in the 18th century the then Siamese Government actually enslaved many Muslims moving them to Bangkok for manual labour and in particular to dig the city’s canals, the very canals that became synonymous with naming Bangkok the Venice of the East. It may not be surprising now that many Muslims communities in Bangkok can be found along the city’s canals!
Although the Muslims tend to keep themselves separated from the Buddhist majority they are often found living peacefully together in small Bangkok communities like the Haroon village and they are happy to call themselves Thai Muslims. Some of Bangkok’s Muslims are very wealthy after selling land to property developers; however the majority have a lower standard of living when compared to the Buddhist majority in Bangkok.
This Muslim area of Bangkok is well known for its down to earth restaurants and food stalls that sell a fantastic mix of Thai, Indian and Pakistani cuisines, if you want an introduction to Muslim food then why not join us on our amazing Siam Chiva food tasting Bangkok cycling tour.
Although you may imagine a Muslim restaurant would be a good business opportunity for Khun Abdulormarn, he is relatively content with his small shop as he can provide for his family even though his wife has sadly passed away. His wish for the future, even if he is joking as you have seen, is to open a small coffee shop for cyclists that pass by his home; obviously seeing a Follow Me Bangkok Bicycle Tour group passing by daily provides him with a good impetus for this venture and we wish him the best of luck.