Drivers take their hands off the steering wheel to wai (a gesture of respect) as they pass the Erawan Shrine, such is the widespread faith in the luck that this landmark brings. The construction of the original Erawan Hotel in the 1950s, on the site now occupied by the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, was plagued by a series of mishaps. In order to counteract the bad spirits believed to be causing the problems, this shrine dedicated to Indra and his elephant mount, Erawan, was erected in front of the hotel. Ever since, the somewhat gaudy monument has been decked with garlands, carved wooden elephants, and other offerings in the hope of, or thanks for, good fortune. By the shrine are women in trad i tional costume. Anyone wishing to express gratitude for good fortune can pay the dancers a fee, and they will do a thankyou dance around it.
Near the shrine, and along Ploenchit and Sukhumvit roads, are several of Bangkok’s most upscale shopping complexes, including Sogo, Siam Center, World Trade Center, Gay Sorn Plaza, Amarin Plaza, Le Meridien, and the swankiest of them all, the Siam Paragon.