Everyday, beginning at four in the evening of the 1940s, the housewives of Charoen Krung - one of the largest district in Bangkok, Thailand - would gather at the Bang-rak market. There, the elders could shop for fresh ingredients to cook for their family, the mothers could bring their children to play and the young ladies could enjoy their afternoon tea. As the country had traded with Britain and France since the 18th century, people adopted the foreign way of socializing; the more European outfits and habits adopted signalized the higher social status and taste. On Sunday May 24th 1942, the habit continued; those who came to the market enjoyed the market without knowing that the afternoon could be their very last. At exactly 4.53 pm, a haunting siren set off, covering the whole street with fear. Every single person froze for a bit before panic started to wake them up. Ladies, children, even the strongest muscular men on the street screamed and shouted while seeking cover. In split seconds after the siren turns into silence came the engine as loud as death could be. Above the sky were three Kawasaki KI 45, 52 and 97 bombers proudly swaying their white and red circle flag around. It was the Japanese. Bombs, after bombs, after bombs, all those unarmed citizens could do was covering their ears and hide under covers hoping that the next drop did not hit them. After five minutes, as the people got out of hidings knowing that the Japanese were gone, the scene in front of them was no where near what was ten minutes earlier. One minute people were crossing each other by, exchanging greetings and the next they scattered - some breathing, some were not. The colorfulness of the market was burnt into ground.
Stand on that same ground today is the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok Hotel, the very first hotel ever established in Thailand and the Mandarin group. The hotel’s glory shines through its outstanding design and high-class services as awarded the best hotel of Asia and the top 20 best in the world by the World Travel Association. When you search for the hotel online, you would probably find its history, how the European traders built it and how their service came to be. Starring at it, you would probably recognize such a sophisticated and elegance architecture. What you will rarely hear, however, is the nearly forgotten tragedy that took place on the ground the hotel stands and the terror left by the worst war of mankind.