Rich upper levels VS poor lower levels of Bangkok

Many sci-fi works follow the same pattern describing cities of the future: multiple vertical levels with different social-economic groups occupying each level. You know, upper levels are occupied by elites, white collars spent most of their time on the mid-levels, social outcasts, poor and all sorts of scum live on the very bottom and the bottom is the most chaotic and funny place in the city. You can find it in Babylon 5, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, even in recent Altered Carbon TV series. I used to think this multi-level design is just a product of writers’ imagination… But it turned out this kind of city design is a real thing in Asian mega-cities, especially in Bangkok!

Let’s look at the city from the highest level. Everything looks small from the top, you feel like the king of the world there. It is the view experienced by occupants of 4 and 5-star hotels, fancy offices and luxurious housing estates (especially popular among western expats). Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok

The city is riddled with overpasses and pedestrian bridges, so it is always easy to observe the city from mid-levels, where you can see most of the contrast between top and bottom levels. Bangkok Bangkok

Leave fancy hotel in the city centre and the first thing you see from nearby bridge is a cluster of slums along old (almost abandoned) railroad. Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok

Going down to the slums. It doesn’t look too dangerous, just very poor, dirty and chaotic. People put mattresses straight on the ground in their ramshackle shacks, add satellite TV dishes and here is it. Lots of children play in this dystopian setting. Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok

Let’s get back to the mid-levels and explore the city from that height. High tech and low life in all its glory is seen from here. Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok

Despite the general poverty, Bangkok’s public transport system is much more advanced than most ones in the west. Bangkok residents enjoy subway, public buses and 2 types of overpass rail lines: BTS Skytrain and Airport Rail Link. Bangkok

BTS Skytrain is probably the most convenient transport in the city. Fast, air-conditioned and slightly more expensive than ground-level one… Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok

And you get an impressive views! Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok

You realize how uncomfortable the city is, once you look down from BTS platforms. Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok

Sometimes Bangkok looks like a level from modern shooter video games. Bangkok Bangkok

The most expensive public transport here is Airport Rail Link. It feels the same as BTS, but wider, faster, less stops… It is quite expensive for most locals and so used mostly as a way for transportation from the city centre to the main airport… which takes just 20 minutes! Bangkok Bangkok

Bangkok is among most chaotic and unpleasant cities I ever visited, but I still love it for the futuristic dystopian feel and delicious local cuisine. Bangkok

Do you know other good examples of such multi-level cities?