A savour of the South | Bangkok Post: travel

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A savour of the South

The towns of Songkhla and Hat Yai make convenient launching pads for exploring interesting sites in the vicinity or farther afield

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I often find myself spending more time looking at century-old photographs than more recently taken ones. Despite the dearth of colour, vintage pictures can be fascinating, often guiding you on mental journeys back through time to periods before any person alive today was even conceived. 

Those faces in antique black-and-white images were once as full of life as people I meet in my everyday routine. At the moment the picture was captured, each of those men and women must have been thinking, dreaming or even worrying about something. For sure, every one of them had gone through ups and downs before reaching that point. Each had a story. Sadly _ then again, maybe not _ in most cases those tales will remain forever untold. The youngsters portrayed in some of those sepia snaps may have gone on to become someone's great-grandparent and their memory is still cherished today by a host of descendants, or else their legacy did not endure long after their deaths and now their existence has been totally forgotten. Equally mesmerising to me is the world these people lived in and all that milieu encompassed: from the neighbourhood they called home, its atmosphere and its architecture, to the society in which they mingled and earned a livelihood, the lifestyle they favoured, the traditions and even the beliefs they once held dear.

The old photograph you see here is one of a small number displayed on walls next to a wooden stage. The scene of many a Chinese opera over the years, this is located within the compound of the shrine built to house Songkhla's City Pillar. At the bottom of this image, which has been reproduced on a large sheet of vinyl, is a caption revealing that it was taken over a century ago on the day King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) paid a visit to this southern town.

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