Seeing a movie in Bangkok, Thailand
By Matt Lepkowski
Suddenly everyone in the dimly lit movie theatre stands up. I follow suit, not wanting to look out of place. Music starts playing and I realize the pictures on the screen are that of the king, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. I’m in Thailand and between the previews and the feature film the royal anthem of the king is played. Everyone is expected to stand and offer tribute. It’s not commonplace, but there are examples of charges being filed against people who refuse to stand.
It may sound severe, but this is nothing like the numerous laws in Singapore. T-shirts mock the number of laws in Singapore, including fines for jaywalking, fines for having chewing gum, fines for smoking in public, etc. The king himself has called for relaxing this “lese majeste” law for defaming the monarchy. In Thailand there’s a universal mutual respect and desire to maintain harmony. Sometimes people call this saving face, but there’s nothing fake about it. The vibe in Bangkok is much more friendly than most other major cities around the world.
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Seeing a movie in Bangkok is a delight. Many cinemas, like the Esplanade or Paragon, are located on the top floor of shopping mall. Picture a 6-story glass and concrete mall with a central atrium cross-crossed by silver escalators climbing to the top. Show your ticket, pass through the metal detector, and take the final escalator to the top and you’re greeted by a majestic setting fit for a king. It’s like you just got a VIP pass to the hippest club in town. Chandeliers hang above your head in the spacious lobby with a tile and carpeted floor below your feet, surrounded by fabric wall coverings, leather chairs, and cloth sofas with ample pillows. These features along with designer lighting provide a comfortable place to meet friends.
Inside the theatre there are wide, plush red seats with a nice degree of recline and stadium seating. Reserved seat numbers are given at the box office and make it feel like you’re buying an airline ticket. The back row has 2-person “honeymoon seats.” In the first class rooms of the theatre, the “BSC Diamond Screen”, short walls separate pairs of leather reclining chairs, blankets are provided, and refreshments are brought to you.
Accompanying the cinema are often ice skating rinks, karaoke rooms, and bowling lanes. Wednesday is discount day for theatres in Thailand and new movies are released on Thursdays. Movie prices are about half price than in the United States, about $5.50 USD for a new release. Soda and popcorn are about $2 USD each. Next time you’re in Thailand treat yourself to a deluxe, comfortable environment while enjoying a new movie. Just don’t forget to stand.
Pictures are from the Esplanade Ratchadapisek web site at http://www.majorcineplex.com/esplanadecineplex/index.php
Matt Lepkowski is the founder of TravelsInParadise.com and lives in the mountains of Colorado, USA.
See Matt’s bio and more of his travel articles and pictures.