When I moved to Bangkok in 2011, I was overwhelmed with choosing where I wanted to live. I saw apartments all over town and in the end - I had to pick one solely based on where they accepted cats as tenants as making Simon Le Bon's arrival comfy was my top priority! I found a place in Sukhumvit in a neighborhood called Nana...right off Soi 13.
One of the draws was being close to Sukhumvit Soi 11 which was a lively little street which meant I could walk to restaurants and bars and walk home. Soi 11 had lots of little dive bars and two very chic ones (Q bar and Bed Supper Club).
Every night, little VW buses pulled up and turned the whole street into a party. We used to love going to the Red Wagon.
My favorite restaurant on the street was the old 70s style American diner at the Federal Hotel where I could get a great crab fried rice and coke in the little bottles for less than $2.
You could hang out in the alley and drink beer at Cheap Charlie's or the Pickled Liver. Both were great because they didn't really attract bar girls or prostitutes like many of the divey bars in Bangkok. You met a huge variety of people - expats, old thai men, tourists, the young and the old.
There were two beautiful old houses on the subsoi between 11 and 13 and one was a spa. The closest mall was Siam Paragon.
Today, as I went down the soi (which is torn up with construction), all of those things are gone and in their place is "luxury" condos, three new hotels, 2 hotels under construction, two big dance clubs (Club Insanity and Levels), an expensive "Argentine Steak House", a Baskin Robbins, a Starbucks, an Au Bon Pain, a Pomodoro, and lots and lots of empty little bars that used to be there scheduled to be knocked down for luxury condos.
We have Terminal 21 on one side, Central Embassy on the other, and the big giant splashy Emquartier two stops away. The Thai junta banned the VW buses and all the fun character seems washed away.
Guess its time to go before the whole city turns into a sanitized mall of chains that you can find anywhere in the world.