My friend Pukky in Bangkok always manages to find the most unique and different experiences to show me Thailand and Thai culture each time I stop for a visit. When she told me that we were going to Saim Niramit, I honestly did not have any idea of what that was. Had she said that tonight we are going to an absolutely wonderful Thai Opera performed on the largest stage in the world by a cast of hundreds, I would have had a better idea what was coming. It took the brochure at the ticket office for me to figure out what was in store for the evening.
We got there early, and decided that we would try the buffet and the show. At 350 Baht for the huge buffet, a lot in Thailand, you would have expected it to be very good with even a few items that would be above that. Unfortunately, it came out as being very large and pretty bland with nothing standing out. We were both pretty disappointed with it, and even the desserts were nothing to talk about. I would recommend that you skip the buffet and eat elsewhere before coming to the show. In a city such as Bangkok – one never has to settle for bland food when there are so many excellent choices to be had all around you.
Behind the Theater courtyard is a set up of traditional Thai houses from the different regions of Thailand. The village of homes on stilts lines a kind of circular pond where you can go and enjoy seeing the Thai traditional life of bygone times and other cultural activities and demonstrations. Interlaced with it all is various Thai finger foods and their preparation and cookiing and other places doing traditional crafts. (I think we visited the place with the fried rice pudding three times!) I actually thought the Malay style house with its prayer room was my favorite place amongst all the houses that I explored. The couple that were your guides in the traditional household were from the Southern provinces by Malaysia and responded to my traditional greeting in Arabic. But I also enjoyed the set up of the Hmong style household – very colorful and really interesting after seeing the Hmong displays in the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore.
There are several traditional Thai dances that occur with about a dozen dancers in the courtyard of the theater. This was in itself a great show and we both enjoyed it. The art of Thai dancing is always just amazing to watch and see the beauty of each movement. There were several dance sets, and each had a different group of dancers in really interesting Thai costumes that were absolutely beautiful. The live band was also very good.
After the dancing was finished, the two elephants were lead around the crowd and you could touch them – ride in the basket atop of them – or have them grab you by their trunk and lifted up. You would think that there would be a line of paying kids wanting to get lifted by the elephant – but I think there were more Thai women in the line, to include my friend Pukky. She had a lot of fun and a great story to tell from that! Afterwards as we were waiting for the doors to open, I noticed that the band was playing different beats, and I asked my friend if this was all traditional music. Somehow I still don’t think that Dixie was traditional Thai music – but you never know!