The world of the ‘farangs’ of the day in Bangkok revolved around activities loosely bounded by New Road from Sathorn to Siphya Roads, north to Petchburi Road, east to Rajadamri (New Petchburi Road did not exist then) down to Ploenchit, east again on Sukhumvit to about Soi Asoke 19, which was the end of civilization and the beginning of the boondocks all the way to the Cambodian border (in 1949, Sukhumvit Road was only paved to Soi 20; after that it was dirt and gravel), south down Wireless Road, east again on Rama IV Road, into the port in Klong Toey.
Most of these roads were tree-lined with enormous rain trees and were bordered by ‘klongs,’ most of which were navigable and connected to the Chao Phya River – the Siamese Mother of Waters. These had been the avenues of commerce in the old days. Eventually, all were covered over or filled in to expand the surface roads to handle the increase of vehicular traffic.
The ‘sois’ leading off of them were often not paved, just compacted dirt, and in the rainy season very muddy. Then west down Rama IV and New Road to Chinatown, down Yawarat Road, Sampeng Alley, Nakorn Kasem (the Thieves Market where you bought back what was stolen by the ‘kamoeys’ the night before) to the Rattanakosin Island/Rajadamnern Avenue area with the government offices, the courts, two universities and the Grand Palace, the Temple on the Golden Mount and the Dusit Zoo. And, of course, on Rajadamnern Avenue with the Rattanakosin (the ‘Rat’) and Majestic Hotels and the infamous Cathay Night Club.
The transnational corporations of the day considered Bangkok to be a hardship post with entitlements to extra allowances – no resident dared to disillusion them. Social life for Americans, Europeans and cultivated foreign-educated Thais centered pretty much on the Royal Bangkok Sports Club with its horse racing, swimming pool, tennis, squash and badminton courts, field sports, golf, card-reading and billiard rooms (for men only) and parties, parties, parties, often in costume. For many years it had been the only place in the city where you could take a hot shower!