If you have been to Bangkok you will know that the street life can be intoxicating. Where ever you go, and at whatever time, there is so much going on that you could easily drift through the hours just observing and soaking up the atmosphere. Occasionally, you will stumble upon someone who just happens to stand out in the crowd and you really wish you could know more about their life, this is how we met Khun Prawit the Bangkok street performer.
“One morning, as we were making our way back to the Clubhouse from the Skytrain, we could hear in the distance the enchanting voice of someone singing in the street. As we got closer we saw a single unassuming man sitting on a stool with a small speaker and microphone, casually singing in Thai to the early morning commuters passing by.”
Wit – freelance tour guide at Follow Me Bangkok Bicycle Tours
Street performers can be seen the world over, they entertain us just for the simple pleasure whilst collecting donations of money, but the gentleman that we came across seemed different and we were intrigued!
Khun Prawit is a blind street performer originally from Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. He told us that he is 33 years old and that he has been working in Bangkok for the past 3 years primarily as a street performer, but he also sells lottery tickets in the streets. He has two preferred spots in the city one that is here on the Chong Nonsi BTS skywalk, and he usually travels between the two by motorbike taxis and buses.
Unknown to us at the time, roughly 3 percent of the population of Thailand have some form of disability and, although there is social welfare support for the disabled, it is a minimal contribution so most choose to live a quiet life in the rural areas and receive support from their families.
However, many people with disabilities strive to be active, they want to be productive and participating members of society, and in return they can help themselves to improve their own living conditions. Even with the laws and regulations implemented by the Government, over half of the disabled people in Thailand remain unemployed, so we have huge respect for Khun Prawit for leaving his family and hometown to live and work independently in Bangkok.
Let’s be honest, even on a good day the streets of Bangkok are not the user-friendliest, having to negotiate the mass of people and other physical obstacles can be a challenge for any able-bodied person, even with all of our senses working at 100%. So imagine what it must be like for Khun Prawit, just for a moment close your eyes and imagine standing on a busy city street corner, can you imagine the mental picture in his mind? You must agree that it must be terrifying!
Sadly, disabled access and facilities in Bangkok are not on the top of the list for the city authorities, and added with the Thai nature of not to question or complain, there is a long way to go before the life of Khun Prawit, and all of the disabled people in Thailand, will significantly improve.
So the next time that you pass one of these street performers, please remember this post and spare a thought and support them with a small donation, it will help to improve their life’s and will be greatly appreciated.