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Thais use basement of abandoned Bangkok shopping mall for aquaculture, breeding tilapia. The first of many?

This is awesome in so many ways. I found the story at the Daily Mail, which is censored by the Thai junta (don't ask why), but this looks like the original post. Here's an image. See the fish swimming in the water beside the escalators?

See the fish? Big! From the Daily Mail:

The New World Mall, in Bangkok, was closed in 1997 after it was found to have breached building regulations, before a fire in 1999 left it without a roof.

Rainwater slowly filled the building with water, causing a major mosquito problem. In an effort to rid themselves of the pests, the locals introduced freshwater talapia fish to eat the insects.

The fish thrived, quickly multiplied, and now fill the lower floors of the mall, swimming around rusty escalators and across the 5,000sqft floor.

So cool. So creative. Great quote from a backpacker:

'It was very quiet in the mall, I could only hear the sound of splashing fish, even though it's close to a main road.'

Quite different from the "Dawn of the Dead" scenario so common in America:

Here's a shot of the outside of the New World (!) mall from Google Maps:

(Fish are sold on side street, Soi Kraisi, see directions here because I'm not clever enough to jockey Google's little Street View man where he needs to go):

And here's where the mall can be found, in Khao San, backpacker heaven, of all places:

* * *

Why the shopping mall was abandoned by its developer:

New World Mall, found on Bang Lam Pu Junction in Bangkok's old town, was built in the 1980s.

The company that built the mall was found to be in breach of building regulations as the 11-storey mall was seven floors taller than the approved construction blueprint.

The mall was forced to close in 1997 and was set ablaze in 1999, leading to its partial demolition.

The fifth to eleventh floors were later dismantled so the empty shopping centre was in line with the original construction plans.

Mr Rockwell, a chef, said: "Some people think it was set ablaze because it was too tall. Lots of people in old town Bangkok think it is insulting to build something taller than The Grand Palace.

'So when the mall was built people got really angry.'

(Reminds me of Philly.) These days, of course, the New World Mall looks tiny, and Bangkok is full of skyscrapers! Anyhow, the story of New World Mall, with its happy though fishy ending, all seems admirably simple and direct to me. We in this country destroyed the flyover states, and their malls, with level of corruption that make a seven-story code violation and the subsequent fire look like child's play.

One can only wonder what MBK, and the massive and glittering Siam Paragon, Central World, and Terminal 21 will look like, 20 years from now. Perhaps they too will be full of fish. "If All The Ice Melted":

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Submitted by lambert on

I should have thought of this; some Thais I've met doing restaurant work are disproportionately afraid of mosquitoes -- but if they were in Thailand, their fears would be entirely rational!

Do note, however, that the government shut down the mall after coverage in the foreign press; specifically, the banned Daily Mail. (To be fair, I am inferring this from the fact that the Thai twitterati I follow didn't give cite to any Thai sources on the story; Barrow is, however, widely followed in some circles, and presumably corrections and/or amplications would have bubbled up....)