Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Rama Phitsanulok 1 & 2 - Phitsanulok, Thailand

According to nearly everybody in Phitsanulok, the Rama Phitsanulok 2 is the last remaining, albeit out of commission, single screen theater in town. To tell the truth, it was physically the most bland theater of them all. A giant white box set back in a dilapidated court that called to mind the post-industrial cities of the Mid-Atlantic states in America. This place was a classic urban wasteland. Half the store front buildings surrounding the theater were abandoned, a quarter of them crumbling. Nonetheless, for the residents who continue to maintain there (mostly stray dogs) life goes on as usual, only without the economic anchor of a movie theater.

The street side marquee, easily the most ornate I've found yet, served as a gateway into a land of entertainment. Unfortunately, the theaters didn't have the same flashy 1980's aesthetic as the marquee.

If you look closely you can make out the word "Godzilla" in neon lighting within the diamond. It must have been a cool sign when it was all lit up at night.

Actually, there were two theaters situated back-to-back in this court. The theater pictured above was the Rama Phitsanulok 2. Rama P-Lok 1 and 3 were right behind and next to it, respectively, though 3 had been demolished years ago and replaced with the building towards the front left of the photo. I only found out this ever-so important bit of movie theater history because of the dog in the photo above, which was getting ready to maul me. His no-bluff growls alerted another 5 or 6 dogs who all came to his side. Fortunately, all the K-9 commotion caused one court resident to come out of her house. "Watch out, they'll attack" she warned, before scattering the irate pack by chucking stones at them. That opened the door for a bit of conversation, and that's when I learned that there was once three theaters in the court. Amazing how bleak circumstances can result in such positive outcomes.

Facade of Rama P-Lok 2

Not 100% sure, but it looks like the fading graffiti on the side of the theater reads "ti ham yiouw" -- "no urinating here."

The three photos above depict the Rama P-Lok 1, but I was not really sure where the front entrance was, let alone the auditorium. It's an enormous structure and has ceased to function as a theater for so long that there is no external evidence of what it used to be. In the background of the photo directly above you can see the side of the Rama P-Lok 2. From what I understood, the three theaters never operated simultaneously. When one became old and run down, they converted it into something else, and built a new theater next door. Hence the 1, 2, and 3. Anyway, they're all closed now and only the Rama P-Lok 2 bares any resemblance to its movie theater days.

The Phitsanulok Rama Theaters 1 & 2, dormant for at least 8 years.

(If there's anybody out there from Phitsanulok who remembers this place, maybe you can give a clearer description of this complex and the theaters therein)

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