More of “Then & Now”

It’s been far too long (for me) since my last blog. You see, American football season has started, and I am a rabid fan of the game. The time of the week that is usually set aside for blogging (Sunday) is now reserved for watching football. I get up at seven a.m. and drink my coffee and read the newspaper. That brings me to nine a.m. and the football pre-game show on t.v. An hour of that and it’s kickoff for half of the day’s games. Those finish at one p.m., just in time for the day’s other half of games. Those usually wrap up at about half past four. Still time to write, you say? But wait! There’s more! There is the Sunday night game, which starts at 5:30 p.m., and then there is the Monday night game, which starts at six p.m. Anyways, on Sunday I’m on the couch in front of the t.v. from sunrise to sunset. Poor Pon is the perfect definition of a football widow. Hopefully I will make it up to her when I take her to Disneyworld in Florida in three weeks. Maybe her experience there will give birth to some blogging material. We shall see.

Okay, so that is my excuse for slacking off. Now here comes my blog. Oh, and by the way, I handwrote the rough draft of this entry in front of the t.v. while watching Monday night football. The Carolina Panthers are throttling the Green Bay Packers, just in case anyone was wondering.

As I wrote in my previous blog, old photos, and history for that matter, fascinate the heck outta me. If a certain captured scene interests me more than usual, I will study it for long moments. I wish myself into the scene so that I can experience it myself. Why do I do this? Do other people do it? I think it may be compelling evidence for reincarnation. A strong desire to re-experience or re-visit the past. Who knows? I’m not saying that I believe in that…but, what if?.

My apologies for not having a scanner. It helps to look at these photos in a darkened room.

Okay, so here’s an interesting comparison of then and now. I’m sure y’all recognize it. This is an old watchtower call Pom Mahakan (or Pan Fah) on Rajdamnern Road. This watchtower was named for Phra Kan, the Hindu God of Death, which was a warning to any outsider who even thought of trying to breech the outer walls that were once connected to this watchtower.

Once upon a time, there were 14 of these watchtowers spaced 400 meters apart. High walls connected these towers, forming protection around the old city (some of the wall to the right of the tower still remains). As late as 1890 the towers and wall remained intact. They were all (save for two) eventually demolished in the name of progress; namely street widening. Only Pom Mahakan and Pom Phrasumane remain. The latter, according to the book, is located where Khlong Banglamphu meets the river on Phra Athit Road. I don’t know where this is, and I’ve never seen it. Here is the info though, for anyone compelled to see it.

These pictures hold a signifigance to me because I have actually been to Pom Mahakan. I’ve climbed the steps and I have gone inside. It’s unmanned and unlocked. It’s littered with rubbish inside, so no telling what goes on inside of it late at night. If any of you readers out there have been there too, you know it is situated at an intersection that is as busy as any other in Bangkok. This is in stark contrast to the sleepy little black and white photo taken over one hundred years ago.
The caption above the photo states that once beyond the watchtower, gate, and the Golden Mount, one would find themselves in the countryside. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

It’s easier to envision the aforementioned countryside when viewing these two “then & now” photos of the Siam Society. The “then” photo was taken in 1933 when it sat in a large open field.

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