TEST YOURSELF: Going, going, gone

Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb
Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb

Old Bangkok buildings are not always safe

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Read the following story by Suthivas Tanphaibul from the Bangkok Post’s Guru Magazine. Then, answer the questions that follow.

Bangkok is an ever-changing city where older buildings are not always safe from destruction. New changes and buildings are said to be an advancement but is that always the case? Guru lists historic landmarks that were once loved.

British Embassy Bangkok

In 2019, many of us were shocked by workers tearing down the British Embassy Bangkok. The white colonial house, with its green garden, was described as "one of the most spectacular British properties overseas" by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The land, all 43,922m² of it on Phloenchit Road, used to accommodate the British ambassador's residence, two monuments, offices, staff living quarters, tennis courts, a swimming pool and a private pond.
However, the land is now part of the Central Embassy project. Rumour has it that the two historical monuments from the embassy's garden have been hidden in Bangkok. One is the British War Memorial that has been saved and reconstructed at the British Club on Silom 18, while the other is the Queen Victoria Statue, which remains undiscovered.

Australian Embassy Bangkok

Who remembers that one of the plots of land on Sathon Tai Road used to house the Australian Embassy Bangkok? Hemmed in by trees in the front, the modern yellow pyramid-shaped Australian embassy had indoor gardens with a pond. However, the land was sold to Supalai, a Thai property developer, who will build a condo on the property.

Scala Cinema

On Nov 1, we saw horrifying social media snapshots of the demolition of Scala Cinema in Siam Square. Scala was one of the stand-alone cinemas in Bangkok where it wasn't just movies that were enjoyed. Scala Cinema was built in Art Deco style and received the Outstanding Architectural Conservation Award in 2012. Whether it was the off-white staircases that complement a ceiling decked out with the iconic grand chandelier, the details cannot be replaced. However, the demolition did raise questions about the need for conservation of historical landmarks in Bangkok.

Hua Lamphong station

Many fear that Hua Lamphong station will end up like Scala Cinema after public transport authorities announced its closure. The historic central railway station is scheduled to close in late December after 105 years. The rail network will be moved to Bang Sue Grand Station with Hua Lamphong set to be home to a train depot and a maintenance station, as well as a small museum.

Section 1: Write the correct answer in the space provided.
1. How many square metres was the British Embassy’s land? …………….
2. On which street is the British War Memorial now? …………….
3. What shape was the Australian Embassy? …………….
4. When did the Scala receive an award? …………….
5. How long has Hua Lamphong been open?…………..
6. Which place used to have tennis courts? …………….

Section 2: Read the following passage. Then, fill in the blanks with the correct words from the choices given.
…7… its surroundings have been turned into a shopping and residential district, the Jim Thompson House Museum still …8… . Tucked away at the end of Soi Kasemsan 2, the …9… of the king of Thailand's silk empire was …10… in 1969.
7. __A. Ever since             __B. Even though            __C. Ever been
8. __A. survive                 __B. survives              __C. survival
9. __A. resident            __B. residence          __C. residents
10. __A. built                __B. build                __C. building
Section 3: Find words that match the following definitions.
11. buildings or place that are easily recognised ……………
12. structures or buildings that are built to honour a special person or event ……………
13. the act of destroying something, such as a building ……………
14. a place where trains are kept until they are needed …………

Answers: 1. 43,922. 2. Silom 18. 3. pyramid-shaped. 4. 2012. 5. 105 years. 6. British Embassy Bangkok. 7. b. 8. b. 9. b. 10. a. 11. landmarks. 12. monuments. 13. demolition. 14. depot.

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