Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Saeng Si Theater - Bua Yai District, Khorat Province, Thailand

Bua Yai is a train town. A train junction town, to be more specific. Here the Nong Khai - Bangkok line grows a spur which cuts over to the west, towards Chaiyaphum Province - though never actually reaching the provincial capital itself.

Remnants of old Thailand, the one that grew up in the decades prior to the highway boom, are easily found in train towns. Streets and sois developed in the absence of the car in train towns. Buildings tend to huddle together, dense, low-rise, along narrow streets, stretching out like ribbons parallel to the tracks. This is where commerce would have been at its most brisk in the days before trucking.

Only river towns can rival train towns for the lover of antiquity. Riparian trade predates the train system, thus spawned a stock of vernacular architecture, mostly wooden, older and increasingly harder to find than what developed in the era of the locomotive. Since neither the train nor rivers represent particularly robust portions of the economy these days, both river towns and train towns tend to retain older charms lost to towns which sit on major highways. For the best in early-modern Thai antiquity, one must visit a town which has both a train station and a river port, but no highway.

Nestled within Bua Yai's narrow lanes, just a block from the train tracks, stands the Saeng Si Theater. Presumably a product of the Thai movie theater boom years (late 1960's to the mid-1970's), today the Saeng Si limps on, a shadow of its former self, with movies only shown during weekends. Fortunately for me, it was a Saturday when I was in Bua Yai. Unfortunately for me, the flooding down in central Thailand had impeded the distribution company from delivering its scheduled film. The Saeng Si Theater was dealt another blow, while I was left kicking the can in Bua Yai, unable to deliver on what I came to do.

The entrance to the Saeng Si Theater has been changed from the front to the side door. The front of the theater has been rented out to a clothing shop. Something tells me this one won't be around much longer.

Door designs

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