DP and I spent the evening of New Year’s Day at the mall. Does that seem odd? It may be the most normal thing to do on a Friday night in Bangkok. Thais of all ages LOVE the mall for a host of reasons:
1. It was 35 degrees Celsius yesterday. That’s actually uncomfortable – especially if you cannot afford air conditioning. The mall can afford it and does provide it – in abundance – and for free. You could think of it as a community service.
2. Mall are some of the most important social/community centres in SE Asia. Since everyone else is at the mall, you are bound to run into friends.
3. Food at the mall tends to be much less expensive than at restaurants. There are 100 food stalls at Central World, our mall of choice.
4. In SE Asia, a mall is not just a mall. The shopping mall is home to the unique, the novel, and the whimsical. While normally housing a movie theatre, the mall may also include a hotel, a skating rink, a water fall etc.
5. Now the obvious – there are shiny baubles for sale at the mall.
DP and I saw “Sherlock Holmes” at the mall last night. The times advertised on MovieSeer did not exactly line up with the times at the SF World Cinema at Central World so DP and I ended up in the grand-daddy of all VIP theatres at an extortionate rate. Although we had been to a fancy theatre with our friends when they visited BKK last week, this was another level of hedonism all together. The VIP theatres are located on their own floor where customers are ushered to a a lounge where appetizers and beverages are served (although NOT diet coke to my great consternation considering the price of the tickets). Then, when we entered the theatre and made our way to our seats, DP and I found plush recliners with electronic controls. After I got comfortable DP reminded me that, at the end of the previews, we would have to stand for the King’s anthem. Did I mention that we were each given a blanket? Yes! And a waiter brought us cokes (still no diet coke) and popcorn included in the price of our ticket although DP did have to kindly urge one of the waiters to deliver this promised snack. It was ridiculously posh and, honestly, I have mixed feelings about the VIP treatment. I don’t ever want to believe that the VIP theatre is the movie-going experience that I am entitled to. (It’s a slippery slope! Ask a rich person.) The good news is that the film was rollicking good fun with excellent performances by Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law and Rachel McAdams.
The massive letters spelling out the word “JOY” were on display in the lobby of the movie theatre and shoppers were invited to leave their thoughts about joy in writing. Meanwhile, downstairs, these children needed no invitation to display their joy. Lovely.