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Saturday, September 15, 2007

SHOWTIME : Siam Niramit

Thailand has become my inspiration since years but tonight, it has really proven to be more than just my muse. Thailand is now my light bulb.

Yup I’m back in Bangkok again and tonight’s my last and I had planned to stop over at Suan Lum Night Bazaar for some last-minute shopping after this show. But I was so blown over by it I felt this overwhelming urgency to come back to the hotel and blog it!

I apologize since I can’t post any photos to accompany my story because no photography allowed. Cameras and video cams are required to be deposited at a special counter where you can later reclaim at exit.

Ok now, the show is called Siam Niramit. This show is exactly what its tagline says – the MUST-SEE show of Thailand. In this case it’s really not clich├ęd if that’s what you’re about to think. This show is truly spectacular….WORLD-CLASS.

It got me totally speechless and by the time the show ended, I felt dazed out. But if there was one word I could utter, it would’ve been MAGIC. Really, really fan-fucking-tastic!!! (pardon my lingo…) Gosh it makes me cry just thinking about what I had just experienced... I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity. This is what I call real art.

First of all, I’m certain I got the best seat in the house. Siam Niramit is a show about the history, culture, customs and traditions of the Kingdom of Siam, dating from back to more than 8 centuries ago till the Thailand we know today. Now despite Thailand’s diverse cultures, the Thai people are bound by a common belief in the religious principal of the ‘Law of Karma’. So, can you imagine now how colorful, beautiful, godly, ghostly and mystical this part of the show must be? This show really takes you to a realm way beyond imagination.

From witnessing full-grown elephants, goats and chickens on set to dancers on aerial lifts as celestial goddesses & angels flying up & down and across the stage, plus watching part of the stage suddenly transformed into a river, yes with real water (!!)… deep enough for a grown human to submerge completely, and a waterway realistic enough to simulate the floating markets of Thailand with people rowing sampans on it, WOW. It really, really blew my mind. And then, as the scene depicted the harvest season, the padi field which was merely a painting at first, suddenly started to sprout before our eyes. Like magic in every sense of the word, the audience were constantly struck by delightful surprises of this sort…. Unexpected shockers that make your heart smile in awe and make you go “Wah…..” all the time!

What struck me most was during the scene featuring the majestic ancient city of Ayuthaya, we actually got RAIN!!! Yes, it rained on stage like it really rained from the sky!! And yes, real water…. Real water pouring down from god knows where. Well, without the audience and the main stage getting wet, that is. Awesome. With electrifying sounds and sight of lightning all around generated by laser, the whole experience was very very life-like. I mean, the overall lighting effects is really OUT OF THIS WORLD – brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!!!!! And the stage is gigantic… the sets are layers and layers of artistry that create such depth and the combination of backgrounds and props on the forefront give the audience a multi-dimensional or view of the scenes.

So many types of dances were featured, their striking and colorful costumes and styling impressive. Feeling particularly close to home at one point as what sounded like the familiar sounds of our traditional Malay music played and dancers in Sarong & Kebaya appeared to perform the Ronggeng! I noticed the immediate change in atmosphere as the noisy and ‘meriah’ scene took stage to represent the Malay-influenced culture in Southern Thailand. So very Malaysian I thought, the ‘kecoh-kecoh kat pasar borong’ was quite a precise portrayal of us which automatically made me grin.

I’ve never experienced such magnitude of a production. Not only in the set designs, choreography, costumes, direction, repertoire etc. but one can see a lot of time and effort was spent researching and studying ancient texts, artifacts, murals, paintings, mythology and folklore to reproduce these realistic settings and scenes! Wow the attention to details is unbelievable. And while expressing all that in accuracy, adaptations have been made to enhance the beauty and flow of the entire performance. Without a doubt, you are really treated to more than just entertainment. You not only learn everything about Thailand culturally and musically, but you’re transcended to a place so surreal, you come out of the theatre in a different state of mind… it’s a truly magical experience.

Well, it’s hard to explain. A show like this one, can never be described with words no matter how well a person writes. Every single person in the theatre was awestruck and definitely impressed. Oh yeah, there was some audience participation too. Fun stuff.

So, go see it yourself the next time you’re in Bangkok.
It only costs 1,500 baht – which includes pick-up & drop-off at your hotel, dinner before show plus a treat for all, a walk-through experience at the charming man-made Thai Cultural Village outside the theatre and a small repertoire of traditional Thai dancing at the entrance grounds.

village woman weaving Thai silk - the traditional way

village woman cooking steamed egg in banana leaf pouches - SUPER YUMMY!

there're even sampans for those who fancy a joyride at the very charming lotus pond built around the village

the elephants are part of the Siam Niramit show but audience gets a chance
to feed and feel them

Would I go to the show again? OH YES, for a million more times! And each time would seem like the first. I went back to the show again after a week! Brilliant.

1 comment:

k.t.x said...

my thai fren from the embassy raved so much abt this show from her recent balik kampung trip that i was quite taken aback! lol....i mean, a local raving about a show on the basics of her own country?? must be something huh? kinda apprehensive at first, but judging from yr post here, i guess it's realllly quite worth it!

may check it out on my next trip there in november!! waang wa doo show ni dai!!! lol.