Wednesdays are currently a day off for me so I like to try and do something special. Yesterday I hopped aboard a pink bus (the correct one this time!) for the brief journey to Central Festival where I watched what will probably be my only cinema movie of the year — the second half of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Part one was my sole movie theater experience of last year. I wouldn’t rate the finale to be the best of the Harry Potter movies — it’s much too dark for that — but I appreciated that the director plunges one right into the story without bothering to explain anything that’s come before. You really do have to be familiar with the series in order to understand what’s happening. The battle scenes were magnificent and my one real complaint was that you didn’t see enough of the dementors.
I may end up going to more movies than just one a year as I found out the cinemas at Central Festival have a special 80-baht rate on Wednesdays and transportation there is fairly easy now that I’m a pink bus pro. For the Harry Potter movie, there was a choice between 3D and “regular” and English or Thai soundtrack. Oh, I also could have opted for “VIP” but those screenings cost 350 baht and I’m not certain what you get extra for that price. For those not familiar with the movie-going experience in Thailand let me mention that the Royal Anthem is played in the middle of the previews and advertisements, accompanied by a photo montage in tribute to His Majesty the King. Patrons are required to stand up for this and those who don’t are frequently arrested and charged under the Kingdom’s strict lese majeste laws. I informed a few Scandinavian kids sitting in front of me that they needed to stand out of respect; I was happy they complied and my initiative garnered some whispering and finger-pointing amongst a few of the Thais in attendance. I was a bit surprised that there weren’t more children in the theater during this mid-afternoon viewing. There were a fair number of farang of all ages, what appeared to be Korean or Japanese school girls, and quite a fair number of Thai university girls in uniform. I always wonder if they watch the movie in English because they want to hear the original actors’ voices or if the Thai viewings were sold-out when they tried to purchase their tickets.
After the movie I walked to the branch of B2S, a large books and stationary chain, for a couple of hours of air-conditioned browsing. I found a few books to put on my “wish list” — Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff, the first chapters of which I’d downloaded and read recently as a Kindle sample and would love to read the remainder; the first in Colin Cotterill’s new series called Killed At The Whim of a Hat (he’s the author of the Dr. Siri series of mysteries set in Laos); and a volume collecting the first five Bernie Rhodenbarr mysteries by Lawrence Block. Each book is a trade paperback and fairly expensive at $18.50 to $20. While I might eventually find the Zuckoff and Cotterill volumes in a used book store here, I doubt if the Lawrence Block will ever show up so that will be the one I save my money for and buy on my first payday (still three weeks to go). I need an occasional splurge and it’s been quite a while since I’ve treated myself to a new book.
I also found a really useful small volume called What’s In A Wat? published by Silkworm Books. Illustrated with plenty of photographs and diagrams, it’s the best explanation I’ve seen of the various Buddhist temple buildings and artifacts. Again, it’s fairly pricy at 395 baht (around USD $12.75) but it would certainly help me out as I can never remember what things are called when I’m wandering around the wats or trying to write up captions. While I don’t plan on purchasing this book — solely from a financial stance — I believe I can gather most, if not all, of the information through internet searches.
I did buy something from B2S, however. They had a bin full of DVD’s priced at three for 99 baht. Right on top was the Nicholas Cage version of “Bangkok Dangerous” which I haven’t seen yet (I watched the original before I ever came to Thailand). The challenge was to find two more movies I’d want to watch. The majority were Korean, Chinese, or Thai movies with horror and martial arts being the predominate genres. The only other English-language movie that looked interesting was “The Horsemen” with Dennis Quaid. Really, the main reason I picked this up was Ziyi Zhang’s name was on the cover — she’s a Chinese actress I’ve liked ever since I first saw her in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” When I was in China a few years back, I purchased several of her movies including the Korean-made epic “Hero” and “The House of Green Daggers”. The third of my cheapo DVD’s was a Korean film set in Vietnam in the early 1970’s. Called “Sunny” is about a soldier’s wife who travels to the war zone as a singer in a band in order to find her cheating husband. It’s quite good (helped by better-than-usual English subtitles) and I thought the main actress was quite lovely.
Having missed the last bus back downtown I decided to walk. It wasn’t a difficult walk — there was some form of a sidewalk along most of the distance and plenty to look at along the way — but it was lengthy as it took me just under an hour to get home (with one quick stop in a Family Mart plus at least five minutes waiting to cross the road next to the Phuket District Office (Amphur). Despite the late hour (8:00) when I arrived home, I watched the movie “Sunny” while dining on tuna fish sandwiches. It was a good day off…