The Humans of New York page has reached 1.5 million followers since its 2010 debut. Now, Bangkok has finally got its equivalent, run by Mattawan “Zon” Sutjaritthanarak, 22, who works for a German NGO. On her page, she takes photographs and chats with strangers to get their perspective on living in our city.
How did the page start?
I was a Chula student. Our original project was to go Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) to take photos of people there. I couldn’t make it in the end, but I kept my desire to do this, right here on the streets of Bangkok. I even planned to find only Korat people living here. But when I started chatting to people, I realized Bangkok is truly a global city. There are people from all over the world living here. I did more research about this kind of project and I found “Humans of New York,” which I really loved. It’s not street fashion. I want to show everyone that there are people from all over the world who share Bangkok as their home too.
What are the reactions from people when you talk to them?
It varies but most of them are friendly. I normally approach them by introducing myself and showing them the page that I’m doing. It depends on them whether they are comfortable enough to be my “human” or not.
Who is the most fascinating person you’ve met so far?
Probably this African-American jazz-man I bumped into. He said something that quite touched me. He said that many foreigners living here feel they are better than local people, which is a dispiriting statement about Thailand. But he said he’d love to learn and understand Thai people and respect them. I found that it’s very humble for a foreigner who lives here to say that. He also showed me the picture he took with Ray Charles when they worked together in the US.
Did you ever face difficulties when interviewing people?
I actually feel safe in Bangkok. Well, I don’t go to dangerous spots. Anyway, the spot that I find has the most diversity is Benjasiri Park, next to Emporium, where you can find people from everywhere: Thais, Japanese, Westerners, people from Cameroon. Bangkok is a real melting pot.
What have you learned so far from talking to strangers?
I feel that people interact with each other less and less. They just go to work, meet only a certain amount of friends—they interact online, not on the street. I’ve learned that everyone has their story or opinion. They’re just waiting for someone to listen. I also want everyone to realize that every life in this city is interconnected. You don’t live separately and your actions will affect others in some way.
What has been the online reaction?
Pretty good. I just created it three weeks ago and it got 750 likes from people who are all over the world, like US, Australia, Germany—not only Thai people. But I do want people to comment more, instead of just clicking like.
What’s your next plan?
I want to create some artistic or cultural project to develop and help people, and write articles about my experience doing this page.
Visit Humans of Bangkok: http://ow.ly/qlsVE