Arts and Crafts Projects for a Winter’s Day

Day two of the bathroom tile work is underway.  Tawn, the handyman, and I spent ten minutes discussing the different options for how best to arrange the tile.  It is kind of hard to explain, and I’ll post pictures about the whole process once it is done, but the challenge is in how the shower glass and tile floor come together.  For some reason, building a lip like you have in western-style showers is just beyond comprehension here.  Plus, it would require us to replace the glass we currently have.

Anyhow, while I wait for that project to come to a (hopefully satisfactory) conclusion, I want to share a picture that I took of some new year’s decorations at Siam Center mall.  This was one of the first malls in Bangkok, dating back to 1973.  It has undergone countless rennovations (two in the five years since I moved here) to keep it fresh for the young crowd and it has managed to remain popular.

Siam Center 1973

Siam Center as it looked shortly after its opening in 1973.  On the right is Rama 1 Road (which becomes Sukhumvit further east).  The space on the left is what today is Siam Discovery Center and a multistory car park is back behind (to the left in this picture) of the malls today.  Siam Paragon, which was built on the site of the former Intercontinental Hotel, now sits down the street (to the right in this picture) of Siam Center.

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From another angle looking towards Rama I Road and Siam Square on the far side.  This picture is taken from roughly where the large LED video screens are in the plaza between Siam Center and Siam Paragon.

Siam Center Sunset

The same side of the Siam Center mall today, with the Siam BTS Skytrain Station in the background.  Amazing how young and fresh Siam Center looks.  Must be the availability of inexpensive, high quality face-lifts here in Thailand!

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The mall has three four-story atrium areas and these are currently decorated with these large signs as well as smaller shapes.  At first they didn’t catch my attention.  But as I looked more closely I started to wonder what they were made of.  It looks like color pencils.

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Turns out, they are constructed of plastic straws!  At first I thought they were solid objects but eventually I figured out that the shapes are formed of plastic sheets with straws glued on top.  The sides, though, are made of thousands of straws.  Tedious work to make, I’d imagine…

 

Demolition of the Siam Theatre

Pent-up anger fueled the flames of arson when forty days of anti-government protests ended on May 19 with the surrender by protest leaders to the police.  The crowds that had blocked one of Bangkok’s main intersections for more than a month dispersed but before they did, violent elements in the crowd set fire to several buildings around the city in what appeared to be a deliberate and preplanned attack. 

In addition to more than 80 people killed and 2100 injured during the protests, one of the victims of the arson attack was the the 44-year old Siam Theatre, which was one of only two remaining single-screen first run cinemas in Thailand’s capital.

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Photo courtesy Southeast Asia Movie Theatre Project

Opened in 1966 in Siam Square, one of the first shopping areas in what is now the nexus of Bangkok’s lively Ratchaprasong shopping district, the Siam Theatre along with its sister complex, the Scala, were a reminder of a bygone era.  Tickets were still paper and you chose your seats from a photocopied seating chart, which the ticket cashier then dutifully crossed out with a pen.  The ushers, uncles that seemed to have been working at the theatres since the very opening, dressed in black slacks, white shirts, and yellow jackets.

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In the aftermath of the fire, the bulldozers have moved in and started to demolish the burned out shell and surrounding shops.  The property owner, adjacent Chulalongkorn University, has long held a master plan to redevelop this area into a more modern shopping complex as they did just down the block a year ago.  Their good fortune, then, that this damage paved the way for the master plan to be implemented.

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One wonders why we need another mall in a neighborhood (and an entire city) that is teeming with them.  Siam Square and the Siam Theatre were unique elements of the city and were especially important to teenage and university life.  As I understand it from my friends who grew up in Bangkok, hanging out in Siam Square was a rite of passage in that period of life where you transition from childhood to adulthood.  Another few blocks of those memories have been razed.

Thankfully, the Scala Theatre and the nearby Lido three-plex, both operated and owned by the same family that owned the Siam Theatre, continue to operate.