People of Ari

Meet the people of Ari – Saphan Kwai, a bite-size encyclopedia of people who live here. From quick neighborly greetings to hearing people’s life stories – perhaps you’ll find someone you need to know here?

“I recently invited people to pick up trash in Ari. It’s easy to assume that Ari is cleaner than other areas, but after walking with a group, picking up trash from Gump Ari to Yellow Lane Cafe , we found the same shocking amount of trash just like any other area. As someone who grew up and works with the sea, I’d like to remind everyone that trash from anywhere can end up in the sea. As long as we cannot find a way to reduce our consumption, the trash incinerators or recycling centers alone will never be enough, and the trash will eventually be blown from the landfill to the water, ending up in the ocean.

The most commonly found trash in Ari is cigarette butts. This is tricky because many people don’t know that the butts are primarily made of plastic. People can smoke quite a number of cigarettes per day and ideally will always put them out in an ashtray. Of course, that doesn’t happen and as they are small, they tend to go unnoticed in the waters.

When I volunteered to look after “Marium the Dugong”, I was devastated because we were the last group of volunteers before she passed away and the autopsy found out that her stomach was full of trash with plastic stuck in her intestines. After that, I make sure I have time to do some beach clean-up every time I go diving. It’s not just a holiday destination, the sea is the largest food source for the whole world..”

“I know it’s super cringy when a company says it “treats their employees like family” but at my job, I really feel that way. I have been an employee at Guss Damn Good since the start of the brand. Now I’m doing much more. I’m from a lower-middle-class family, which means we all have to work hard for money. I needed money so I could sign up for a Work and Travel program, so I can make more money abroad. That’s why I got a job as an ice-cream scooper. It’s that simple.

But the brand founders told me, “Peat, when you come back, please come and work with us”. They always check the relationship with all their employees on a personal level. I think a good boss knows not only where the goal is but how to nurture the team to learn to achieve the goal together. Do I have a personal dream? Yes, I’d love to be an illustrator, but I don’t know how to get there yet. To speak frankly, I can see a career ladder with my current job, there will be something bigger more for me to do here at Guss Damn Good”

“I’m wearing this shirt I got from our previous clotheswap. It’s nothing fancy but it’s one of the shirts that spark joy, you know? I like clothes that aren’t too gimmicky and I can wear them on many occasions. That’s the kind of clothes I’m looking for at this upcoming clotheswap event.

I could say I have adopted a minimalist lifestyle, nothing too extreme though. I try to be conscious about what I bought for my home. I make sure that I don’t have more clothes than my limited amount of hangers, for example. I make sure everything has its purpose in my space. Even pretty decorative stuff I keep in my house, their purpose is to spark joy. If they don’t they can go haha.

“I’m feeling good today, look how few I have left to sell! This is what’s left over from 700 hundred cups! You see, my Kanom Tuay is not flats like the classic ones you see in boat noodle stalls. Those are a disaster when you put them in boxes. And let me tell you, no high heat when you steam cook them, make sure they taste salty and creamy.

I can’t do this all alone, are you kidding?! There are about one ton of ceramic cups to cook and clean! There are five of us renting a house together. 3 women and 2 men. Every morning we make Kanom Tuay together with about 700 -1,000 cups and then we head out to sell them on our own in this area. These ceramic cups are heavy as hell on the push cart. Then at the end of the day, we sit together and clean these cups. That’s our day.

I’m rooting for a lottery jackpot win today. If I win today, y’all can eat for free!”

“Our workload is about 5 times more during Valentine’s and, let me tell you, it’s the same with every other florist shop. Orders start to increase from the 10th and drop after the 14th. I normally work just with my partner but during Valentine’s we have to hire 5 more helpers, designing this year’s bundle, and work until the morning is not shocking for us. It is always like this every year.

When I was in Chiang Mai, studying art, I found that working with flowers was my favorite thing. My first flower arranging job I had was in a church, a wedding I think. It was over 20 years ago. Then I moved to Bangkok, this shop is 14 years old. I know people around here by name. Our shop used to be at the beginning of Soi Ari, which is now a Noble condo.

What I like about my job is the passing forward of joy from hand to hand. I love working with pretty things like flowers. I love being creative with them. Then, when the clients come to collect them and they’re happy with the result, that’s joyful. Then, they tag me or send me photos of how the receiver feels about the flowers. That’s very, very joyful for me.”

“When I tell people I’m an economist and a composer/ sound artist, they assume that I do my day job for money and make music for pleasure. The truth is I enjoy both, I’m an equally big nerd with both! My economic work gives me the privilege to work in different countries. When I’m overseas, I perform at gigs and make music inspired by their cultures. It has made me understand art and club culture deeper, which benefits my day job. I don’t DJ though. I don’t know how to please the crowd. I only make music as art to satisfy my geekiness.

I’ve traveled frequently since I was a kid. Both my parents are originally from Bangladesh. I am occasionally treated differently by my looks in some countries, especially in airports. But, as soon as I open my mouth, people instantly know that I’m a Brit. Being a nomad is great but sometimes you don’t get to keep valuable friendships. This is something I think about often and much of my music work explores these ideas of cities, places, and people.

Although an East Londoner right down to my DNA, I also feel a deep connection to Ari, Bangkok. A large part of that is due to those very same connections we have been speaking about, such as my partner, my friends, and the community. I would loathe losing those things…”

“Once when I trained my gym employees, I made one of them stand on a chair while everyone was sitting around them and I made them try to think about their favorite song while being watched. That’s the stress, self-consciousness, and shyness our customers feel when they walk into our gym for the first time. We are not a status gym with lots of trendy people who have great bodies, we have a lot of people who are not confident about their bodies but want to do something. I want to train my staff to know this feeling and treat them kindly.

People are working hard on their New Year’s Resolution this month. To make it not fall through, you must make it through the first month. That’s the hardest part when you want to change your brain pattern. New lifestyle, new food. The real benefit of going to the gym is mental health. My weight goes up and down all the time but I go to the gym every morning to let my brain transmit good feelings and positive energy. I think we all should start there.”

“I used to live in a small community of Indian immigrant workers in Din Daeng, but after Covid hit, they slowly moved back to India one by one. Now there’s only me left. I’m trying to work harder to save some money from what I have leftover after I’ve bought my food and paid my rent. I’m saving up for a plane ticket to Kusinara – so I can go home.”

“It’s common for people from Roi Et like us to have to deal with debt from loan sharks. It’s hard to make ends meet. I make 500 baht per day, 6 days a week. I’d be lucky if I could send home 5,000 baht for my wife and two kids. They have no job because there aren’t any for them to do. They grow rice at certain times of the year but let’s be honest, it makes little to no money.

So I’m here in Bangkok as the breadwinner for my family so we can pay the loan. Sometimes they visit us here from Roi Et a few times a year. These days people start using Grab as messengers, so those special messenger jobs for offices are scarce. I can’t get into Grab either, I’m not tech-savvy like young folks and I don’t have apps or phones like them.”

“I teach old people art and how to use technology. My dream, when I was a child, was to move from Ubon to Bangkok to study art to become a teacher.

My first ‘student’ has always been my dad. I’ve taught my dad how to do loads of stuff since I was a teen. He’s 81 this year. Since the pandemic, I haven’t been able to see him; he loves to sing so he learned to use Zoom and we sang together through Zoom. So I thought, why don’t I teach other old folks as well?

I learned that many old people have to live with a feeling of worthlessness and loss. Some of them have lost their spouse, and so they need leadership. They need a life path, a job, something to do. I want them to escape these negative thoughts. I believe that older people can begin new adventures. I’ve seen many people who have become a chef, a yoga teacher, or even an athlete in their old age!”