Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Mae Sot Rama - Mae Sot, Tak, Thailand

The border town of Mae Sot in Tak province is less Thai than anywhere else I’ve been in the country. A bustling downtown is packed with migrants of Burman, Karen and Bangladeshi decent, complete with a Muslim quarter thronged with ramshackle tea shops. Second and third generation Chinese-Thai gem traders sell their goods from open-front shops and a sizable Western presence comes and goes to service the refugee industry centered around the town. But what do all these people share in common? Why of course, they no longer have a movie theater.

But from the 1960's to the mid 1990's they had Mae Sot Rama to satisfy their escapist needs.

I spoke with the daughter of the current owners, who now run the T-Corner restaurant just next to the theater. She claimed that "small town Thai economies have suffered for the past 10 years" and that operating the family gem was too costly. "We'd like to find a tenant," she added, "but the place is in bad shape and it would cost too much to fix. Tearing it down would also come at the high price tag of 100,000 baht."

A poster case hangs ghostly in the lifeless lobby.

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