After being in Thailand for six years, I am embarrassed to say that I have not really done my share of sightseeing as a ‘tourist.’ I have not had an elephant ride in Chiang Mai, I have not wiggled my toes into the white sand of Phuket Island, and I have not been to the famous Floating Market. But last weekend marked a change in my experience of Thai life. I visited the famous Siam Niramit in Bangkok.
At Siam Niramit, I had the opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy their spectacular performance on Thai culture and heritage in Bangkok. As I entered the esteemed Siam Niramit theatre, I was caught up in awe. Red cinematic chairs were majestically lined up, row after row, and they covered the whole theatre. It is claimed that this theatre can seat 2000 people. The Guinness Book of Records also certified the stage as the highest stage in the world.
Throughout the 80 minute program, we were taken back to different history bits of Siam; the ancient kingdom of Lanna (north) right through the mighty Ayutthaya capital (central). It was a delight to see values and culture that I could resonate with, such as traces of Malay culture in the women’s sarongs as they performed the Overseas Traders from the south. It was also interesting to see Thai traditional games in the Ayutthaya scene; there were goats running across the stage and it gained laughter and applause from the audience.
The next act showed the Thais’ belief in the law of karma. I found this act intriguing as it revealed to me that this is how the Thai Buddhist people view hell and heaven. I was particularly enthralled with the Mystical Himapaan Forest, which is a boundary between the human world and the heavens. The colors displayed were subtle blue, purple, and magenta in beautiful integration. Fairy look-a-likes flew down from above, and in the background, a gigantic, ornamented dragon ran repeatedly from one end of the stage to the other. The final act was named Journey through Joyous Festivals, where Loy Krathong festival was performed. Audience members were then invited by the performers to float krathongs on the river set onstage.
I found myself mesmerized by the big and small details of the performances. The beautiful and creative props (some convincingly real), the special effects, and the humor in scenes were just a few of the things that blew me away. My particular favorite was watching the silhouettes; there was one scene where against the orange background representing the sunset setting, there is a discrete shape of a temple and the characters’ silhouettes appeared upfront, standing still in their Thai headgear, costumes, and swords. It was such a beautiful and memorable scene that I wished I had captured it with my digital camera (cameras are not allowed into the theatre).
The ticket cost 1,500 baht per person. Siam Niramit is open daily, with show time starting at 8 pm to 9:30 pm. To get to Siam Niramit, take an MRT to Thailand Cultural Center, and the shuttle van to Siam Niramit travels every 15 minutes starting at 6 pm. If you have the time (and money), consider Siam Niramit to be a part of your Thailand experience. I have enjoyed it and I am sure you would too.
Plus! Try the buffet dinner! They served a wide-range of Thai and Western cuisine. The buffet dinner is open at 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. The price is 290 baht per person. I blogged about the food in my previous entry.
My tip If you go for the buffet dinner, go as early as you can and finish say by 7:00 pm. Go out to the courtyard and you can:
• take pictures with some of the key Siam Niramit show performers
• listen to Thai and Western music rendered using Thai traditional music instruments
• buy souvenirs ( although it is quite pricey)
• go for elephant rides
For more information, visit their Web site at http://www.siamniramit.com
Oh, I thought I should mention – at the entrance, one Thai lady dressed in her traditional Thai costume came to pin a flower on my blouse and gestured me to look at the camera. There is a little booth at the courtyard where they print and put your photo (highly-photoshopped) in a nice Thai frame.
And yes, they charge 200 baht.
You have the option to buy or not to buy. I bought mine because…well this is part of my experience-Thai right. Might as well go all the way. 🙂