Uttaraphimuk Elevated Tollway

Flights from Bangkok seem always to be scheduled to leave at daybreak. Using BKK for a hub to traverse South East Asia, a traveler will inevitably find himself rushing to the airport in the bleery-eyed pre-dawn of a humid Thai morning. And if the traveler needs to get there fast, they will often find themselves in a taxi with the city blurred in the background of the Uttaraphimuk Elevated Tollway.

The elevated road is a recent addition to Bangkok’s messy urbanism, but has grown into an emblem for both the successes and failures of Bangkok’s transformation into a 21st century metropolis. Reshaping the city it bisects, the tollway marches like a Roman aquaduct above congested Vibhavadi Rangsit—the road that initiated me into smog-choked Thai traffic only 15 years ago. But so too does this aquaduct, emerging from some vanishing point on the northern horizon, deliver into the city greater volumes of private vehicles and trucks bearing the economy of Thailand as their payload. And from this high vantage over the flat city one witnesses the economy in action: the residual blank billboards from the last financial crash, as well as the climbing skyline constructions of the current market upswing.

rick miller