Thailand is a land of varied shades. A country that has been culturally so vibrant and has over 4000 years of history in its kitty is bound to offer more than its pristine beaches and happening nightlife to the travellers and tourists who visit its land and sea with equal zest.
To emphasize and propagate this thought to the next generation is the effort of an antiquarian with his collection of antiques of everyday usage and small-town bygones at the Kru Kung Museum in Kram Klaeng District of Rayong, Thailand. A visit to this museum turned out to be a nostalgic trip down the memory lane for me, and, how!
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Kru Kung Museum in Thailand
On our trip to the Rayong province in association with Amazing Thailand, an old man with an un-missable smile welcomed and ushered us into an unpretentious structure as soon as our group alighted the bus. Our guide quickly introduced him to us as the collector of these antiques- Mr.Kung ( pronounced and written as ‘Kang’ by some people) and whose actual name is Somkiat Boonchuayleau. The enthusiastic simple Sexagenarian was more than willing to share his story with us, of course with the help of a translator in the form of our guide.
Kru Kung Museum is home to over 25,000 things of everyday Thai life collected across six decades. Mr.Kung – an art teacher by profession, started assimilating these things in the year 1974 as a hobby which slowly transformed into his passion. Encouraged by the response of his friends and well-wishers, he turned his home into a museum and opened its doors to public viewing in 2016.
A photo tour of the Kru Kung Museum
The display of old world charm starts right from the entrance of the Kru Kung Museum. The tea-stall and the mobile juice van to the left is a stark reminder of the good old days when sipping a cup of tea or a glass of juice was not just a commercial interest but a social affair for the vendor.
Scooter- The Family Vehicle!
Old world charm of bygones
The ground floor of the Kru Kung Museum has prototype-set ups of yesteryear’s saloon with old-fashioned razors, photo-studio with bulky cameras and flashlights, tailor-shop with frumpy yet charming clothes and a tea-stall with the mechanical tea-maker and vibrant porcelain kettle intact. The whole layout looks more like a ready-to-use film set of the retro era.
A person born in the ’80s of the Indian Sub-Continent like me who has witnessed the advent and effects of technology in everyday life, and also people belonging to the previous decades are sure to be enthralled by a glimpse of the umpteen good-old chiming clocks with the now-motionless pendulums hanging royally inside the Kru Kung Museum.
A couple of cuckoo-clocks bought from Russia are lying in disuse in my home just because the new generation of clockmakers no longer make these finesse pieces of time, rather, they are equipped to just repair the factory made ones. Once the pride of the drawing or dining rooms, these clocks have been heartlessly replaced by the digital ones endangering the cuckoos, in our homes!
The old vibrant vehicles, the blue tuk-tuk, the brass doorknobs and hooks, the various ornate wall-clocks, an old printing machine that dished out high-quality embossed cards is a world in itself at the Kru Kung Museum and transports one to yesteryears when life was simple, people had time to work and socialize as a community and emphasis was more on quality than quantity.
The extended charm of Kru Kung Museum
The ground floor of the Kru Kung Museum extends into a small green lung space that has set-ups modelled after classrooms, grocery shops, toy shop of rural bygones.
There are charming kiosks of ice-cream sellers, juice makers and pieces of pottery as well. Most of the crockery and cutlery are very similar to the ones used in Indian homes. I could also find a ‘mould/pan with depressions’ similar to the one used in TamilNadu for making the lip-smacking ‘KuzhiPaniyaaram‘.
A floor filled with nostalgia
The first floor has a display of outmoded gadgets, appliances, vessels, measuring cans and jars belonging to years from the late 50’s onward.
The collection of mobile phones and modern gadgets outnumber the mechanical type-writers, abacus or the collection of kettles. A stark reminder of technology becoming obsolete, as quickly as, the fine-sand that trickles down the sand-timer.
The moment my eyes fell on a moribund type-writer, I was reminded of my discussion with my dad who had earlier shared fond memories of his type-writing classes and his associations with ‘Remington’. I captured a snapshot of the now obsolete typewriter as a memory for him.
Similarly, every article of the Kru-Kung Museum is bound to fascinate and pique one’s curiosity, be it of a child or an adult. It could be an exhibit that is as recent as the clunky Nokia mobile or as quaint as the chiming clocks. The place perfectly serves as an exhaustive source to impart knowledge on culture and history of the latter part of the 20th century to the younger generation.
Also, one cannot miss the old model of sewing machines that have been refurbished and re-used as tables to hold the collection of coins, stamps, piggy-banks et al.
Why should one visit Kru Kung Museum when in Thailand?
For me what makes the Kru Kung Museum in Rayong stand out from other private collections is that it has an earthy feel to it and gives a glimpse of Thai life from a different perspective.
Yes, there is nothing ethereal, exotic or unusual about the collection of objects and antiques at the Kru Kung Museum, still, they are bound to connect with the visitors as he/she exudes a sense of familiarity, nostalgia and curiosity with every passing object without much pompous. A stark reminder that life has moved on to become a mechanical one with no time to stop, stare and ponder. Life was bound to be simple but it is we humans who have complicated it!
You may also read about the other off-beat experiences of mine in Thailand from the previous trip.
The Kru Kung Museum is indeed a treasure trove with some amusing and quirky antiques that is sure to capture the imagination of its visitors especially kids and drive the adults into a memory lane with nostalgia. So, do plan a visit when in Bangkok as it is just a couple of hours drive from Thailand’s capital and is also closer to Rayong which is another perfect family destination.
Hope you visit this home of antiques with heart, very soon!
Kru Kung Museum is open every day from 9:00 am to 16:00 pm.
80 Baht per adult
30 Baht per child
150 Baht for foreigners
Leaving you with some more captures of the intriguing and quirky artefacts of Kru Kung Museum
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Lunch Time Wonders
A mini-sized show-stopper. Look at those expressive eyes and facial features.
This banyan tree beside the Kru Kung Museum must be the oldest living antique in the area!
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Disclaimer: “All views expressed in this write-up are my own. I was invited to be part of the Media Trip to Thailand in association with Amazing Thailand and TAT Delhi. I have tried to share correct and appropriate information with my readers as gathered from my tour guides from ‘Absolutely Fantastic Holidays Ltd’ and the owner of the museum, to the best of my knowledge”.