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Inside Sydney's 'Little Bangkok'

Australia's Thais transform demographics and make headlines amid crisis

Sydney’s officially designated Thai Town is only the second in the world after the one in Los Angeles. (Courtesy of the Thai Town Business and Community Association)

SYDNEY -- Clare Ng, the Sydney-born daughter of a Thai mother and Singaporean father, vividly recalls an otherwise routine bus ride to school 23 years ago. "Suddenly it dawned on me that some people sitting behind me were speaking Thai," she says. "I was 16 and it was the first time I had ever heard my mum's language spoken on the bus or in the street."

How times change. In a country that operated a "whites-only" immigration policy until the mid-20th century, Australia's largest city now not only boasts an officially designated and signposted "Thai Town" (the world's second after Los Angeles), but there are now more Thai-born people living in Sydney's central business district than any other grouping by country of origin -- including native-born Australians, census statistics show.

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