Living in the Past

If you have an hour to spare, stop by at the Bangkokian Museum to appreciate the old Bangkokian way of life
Bangkok's greatest allure is unquestionably its majestic temples and modern department stores that have earned the city its sobriquet of shopper's paradise. But revel in the everyday rhythms still found in its winding lanes and buzzing markets and you may come across some hidden gems.

The Bangkokian Museum in one such serendipitous find as I was exploring the city. Walking down towards the end of Charoenkrung soi 43 after popping by the Central Post Office, I came across a sign which read "The Bangkokian Musuem" and decided to explore. The musuem is a collection of artefacts from a bygone era housed in three traditional Thai homes that illustrate the era of 50s - 60s Bangkok.

The main building, built in 1937 with a budget of 2,400 Baht, was once the home to a typical Thai family known as the Surawadee's. Today, this part of the house has been converted into a museum according to owner Waraporn Surawadee's wishes of preserving the local Thai lifestyle for posterity.

A stroll here offers a glimpse of the past, both through the traditional architecture of that era and through everyday household items on display. The home has been kept in immaculate condition and visitors are free to roam across every part of the house.

I stroll over to the second building, which was used as a private clinic by the owner's husband who was a doctor. There, I ogled at old diaries and cigarette cases displayed in the doctor's room. But what really caught my attention was the room housing traditional medical instruments such as ancient scales, potties and even metal rods (which I was told, was used to treat patients suffering from constipation!).

The third and final building is where original household items from mortar and pestles, wooden medicine moulds, Thai citizenship documents and old money are displayed. If you speak Thai, the museum's caretaker will be able to talk about the role of some of these items and how they were used by generations past. She can get by in English but not without much groaning, hand gestures and the occasional smile.

A visit here is a chance for one to feel completely detached from modern Bangkok, enabling one to relish for a fleeting moment, how Bangkokian life used to be. It's the silence that creates the perfect setting, combined with the original state of all three houses and the well-preserved displays, that make it a trip in time worth going back to.
The main building of the museum

The museum's main building

Ancient household items on display

Ancient household items on display

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