Friday, October 30, 2009

The Meuang Thong Rama (Khu Rak Theater) - Singburi, Thailand


-->You see that beige building on the left hand side of the photo above? The one with the high, slender arches that are slightly pinched at the top? That’s the old Meuang Thong Rama Theater. It stands on prime real estate, directly on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, overlooking the muddy waters of that most revered river system. It must have been a popular place for couples to go back in its time. Many a romantic stroll along the river banks likely took place after the movies let out. As a matter of fact, the Meuang Thong Rama was originally named the Khu Rak, or "couples" theater.

The neon lights along the marquee's border are the letters 'K R', as in Khu Rak, the original name of the theater.
As the story goes, the original owners sold the Khu Rak Theater to the good people over at Apex, then the largest movie theater company in Thailand. Under Apex's stewardship, the name was evidently changed to Meuang Thong Rama. The trademark pyramid of Apex, along with the word "scala" still hangs over the lower lobby. If I'm not mistaken, Apex also went under the name Scala for a while, perhaps due to the wide recognition of its most elegant theater bearing that name.

The lower lobby, strew with trash and scraps of wood. Obviously once a handsome place.



Strips of glass and mirror lean against the lobby wall. The building is now used as a wholesale glass shop.

Upper lobby, outside the doors to the auditorium

A clear view of the Chao Phraya River can be seen from the upper lobby.

A small mountain of pigeon droppings has accumulated on the staircase railing.

The gentleman on the left now runs a glass business from the old Meuang Thong Rama/Khu Rak Theater. He and his friend chat over a cigarette.


I would love to tell you more about the Meuang Thong Rama/Khu Rak Theater of Singburi, but I didn't get very much information. The guy running the glass shop was kind enough to allow me to enter and take some pictures, but he didn't know too much about its history besides the few facts mentioned above. Nor do I know much about the town of Singburi, other than it's pretty old, has a discernible ethnic Chinese feel and a bustling little downtown. Its location on the Chao Phraya River, in the heart of Thailand's most productive rice growing region, must have made it an important place for shipping the staple grain down to Bangkok and beyond. Picture, if you will, that you're standing on the balcony of the upper lobby, softly veiled in the cool shade of the Khu Rak Theater, ten minutes before showtime, watching the rice barges float down the river. Must have been nice.

2 comments:

  1. Hello, have you visited the cinema (sorry theater/theatre is for live productions in England) in Tha Reua near Tha Maka in Kanchanaburi province. The term faded grandeaur could have been made for it - derelict, but still an imposing building.

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