Have you ever wondered what the building you live in now used to be? When I found out that the condo I am living in now was one of stand-alone cinemas in the neighborhood, it excited me tremendously. It triggers my thoughts about the transformation of the Bangkok’s urban landscape.
When I moved back to Bangkok few years ago, it just happened that I ended up living in Phra Khanong area where I was very new to it. It’s on the other side of this big city as opposed to Don Muang, where I grew up. My last recollection of this strip was the heavy traffic jam on the intersection and there was a row of cinema signage.
On top of that, it is gorgeous to see its transformation as well. An enthusiast has posted a photo series of its demolition. And luckily, when Google Street View started to roll out in Bangkok in 2011, it has archived the construction of the new building as well.
Asia Rama was not the only stand-alone cinema in Phra Khanong area. There was a cluster of them. While it was in the hay day, there were at least six theaters and five department stores in this area. But I think the cinema was the last one operating. According to Wikipedia, it was closed down on 20 August 2009. The transformation is still happening as we speak. I will post about some of other cinemas later.
As soon as I got up on the train from Chiang Mai, my focus was almost immediately on the changing landscapes outside the window—from Ayutthaya Station right up Hua Lamphong Station. It was an enjoyable mixed bag of urban creep sceneries to see.
In Ayutthaya, there was a rhythm of rice fields and industrial estates emerging from the light of dawn. Then they started to work on the new Dark Red Line suburban commuter train in Rungsit. Don Muang was the mark that it had entered Bangkok with the old International Airport. Along the way, there was Bangkok’s Stonehenge, which became street artists’ heaven. It went through the train depot in Bang Sue, which would be the last clear horizon perspective from the train. Finally, while it was approaching the final destination in Hua Lamphong, Bangkok from the train view turned into dense communities.
By the time the train arrived Bangkok, the camera phone and the spare powerbank almost ran out of their power and I got very exhausted with the travelling and everything. But it was all really worth it.
Once upon the time, “globalisation” was a buzz word and tourism was starting to kick in in Thailand. I was studying in Thammsat university and regularly went to the local pub with this view. How stunting was that! Decades went by, a good old scenery hasn’t changed, has it?
Well, it has. This three images are pretty much like the same as I remember then. But the experience around it is definitely different for someone who spent most night out for cheap drinks twenty years ago.
I spare the details such as the snooker tables in the pub then or the nice park next by now.