There’s something particularly eerie about an abandoned shopping mall. Perhaps it’s the stark contrast from its intended purpose: to see such a sterile place once designed to entice throngs of shoppers into its doors, now so completely devoid of any human life, dilapidated and darkened with time. It’s basically the very definition of post-apocalyptic. But in the case of the (now ironically named) New World shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand, abandonment by humans doesn’t equate with lifelessness. The mall, which reportedly caught fire in 1999 (rumored to be arson by a competitor), has since flooded with several feet of water and become a paradise for koi and catfish.
As seen in these photos from chef / travel writer Jesse Rockwell, the resulting “urban aquarium” is at once delightful and surreal. Rockwell writes on his travel, photography, and food blog A Taste of The Road that someone deliberately introduced the fish into the vacant mall, but that locals in Bangkok’s old town “discourage people from visiting it.” He says he had to wait for a policeman to leave before entering, which makes his resulting images all the more breathtaking.