A few weeks back, I left the apartment (point A on the map below) and walked down to the Lumpini MRT station (B). Twenty baht ($0.65) and three quick stops later, I was at Terminal 21 (C), a combination mall and hotel that is at one of the two interchanges between the subway (the Sukhumvit station on the MRT) and the skytrain (the Asoke station on the BTS).
Terminal 21 opened last October right about the time when the floods were starting in central Thailand; it contains 600 shops, most of which are quite small like those found in a night market. The concept behind the retail portion of the development is a 21st century airport from which one can visit (and, of course, shop in) various world cities. Signs on the escalators inform you that you are departing from one city or arriving at another. While I have never experienced (endured?) the World Showcase portion of Disney World, I have experienced faux travel to New York, Italy, and Egypt during trips to Las Vegas. Terminal 21 is not as audacious as either Vegas or Orlando, but the difference is more a matter of degree than kind.
The sub-ground (or basement) level (SG) is loosely based on a Caribbean beach theme complete with a lighthouse, a ship’s anchor, fish, and murals of Calypso singers. This floor contains a Gourmet Market, other food stores including Mr. Donut, Dairy Queen, and Baskin-Robbins, as well as some local banks and finance companies.
As one moves up to street level, the theme changes to Rome. Many brand name retailers are found on this level including Nike, Levi, Puma, and others that I am probably too unfashionable to recognize. This floor is decorated with replicas of Roman statues, fountains, and arches.
The entrance from both the skytrain and subway is onto the Mezzanine floor (M) with the theme of Paris. The stores on this level are primarily Thai boutiques, but I did recognize The Body Shop, Sunglass Hut, and the ubiquitous Starbucks. Decorations included a tree covered boulevard near the Eiffel Tower, Parisian boutiques, Champs-Élysées, and the Arc de Triomphe.
From the Mezzanine floor you can either go up to the first floor or else take a 120 foot long escalator up to Istanbul on the third floor. The first floor is modeled after Tokyo and the stores all seem to be small boutiques that sell ladies fashions. While I saw no store names that I recognized, I also did not spend a lot of time on this level. Images here include sumo wrestlers, a geisha, a Samurai warrior, ceiling lanterns, and Maneki Neko.
London is the theme for the second level. All the expected symbols of one of the world’s greatest cities are here — the double-decker bus, the Irish Guard with his Bearskin, the unarmed bobby, the red telephone box and the red mail box, the Westminster street signs, etc. The stores on this floor are for men’s wear and once again they are exclusively local Thai merchants, including two stores named “Gay Ray” and “Queer”. I am not sure whether this just reflects a poor command of English or if these stores really are tilted away from the straight guy.
Istanbul is the inspiration for the third floor. The stores here sell the jewelry, handbags, and shoes needed to accessorize the women’s fashions found on the first floor. The best part of this level are the fabulous, colorful lanterns hanging from the ceiling.
The top three floors are California. San Francisco is the concept for both the fourth and fifth floors. These floors are where you eat, either very low-priced Thai food from hygienic versions of the commonplace Bangkok street stalls or in more mid-tier restaurants including familiar brands such as Swensen’s, Tony Roma’s, and KFC. It would be impossible to conjure up San Francisco without the Golden Gate Bridge, a cable car, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the seal lions from Pier 39.
The sixth floor is Hollywood and, of course, that means the iconic sign from Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills portion of the Santa Monica Mountains. All the cellphone brands and service providers have stores on this floor. Not surprisingly, it also houses an eight screen cineplex (including two 3D theaters) that shows primarily first-run movies from the states but also one or two Thai films. The U.S.-made films are presented in English with Thai subtitles.
The theater’s seats are large and comfortable, and you get to choose the seat that you want since all theaters have assigned seating. Tickets run either 170 baht ($5.50) for a seat in the front (first 10 rows) or 190 baht ($6.15) for a premium seat in the last three rows. A large popcorn and a soft drink cost another 110 baht (about $3.50) or you can get a large popcorn and two soft drinks (just keep a wary eye out for NYC’s Nanny Bloomberg) for 149 baht ($4.80).
For under $10, I saw Men In Black 3 and I had my choice of salted, cheese, BBQ, or caramel popcorn; being a conservative traditionalist, I opted for the regular, salted variety. I expect that our Dear Exalted Leader, a.k.a. BHO, would have “invested” in all four choices for the unfortunate masses who sit in the front 10 rows and then had the “millionaires” who sit in the 3 premium rows pay since “it is only right.” BTW — I am not sure who built the mall and adjoining hotel let alone the 600 businesses contained therein, but I can guarantee you that it was not the government. Just over 100 days until the American people can finally stop the idiocy.
Kop Khun Krab.
© 2012 Kurt Brown. All rights reserved.