Out of the Past

Just north of Saphan Put is the flower market, and just north of that is the electronics district, and just north of that is the Nightingale-Olympic:


The Nightingale-Olympic was founded in 1930 as Bangkok’s first department store. The current building dates from 1966, as does almost everything in it. It’s still very much open, and staffed by a number of ladies in pink polo shirts, but store appears to be frozen in amber.


Aside from the employees, there were no other customers. That’s fine, because there are plenty of mannequins.



Almost &nbasp; but not quite – everything is ancient. Here, for example, are some ancient games in glass cabinets:



It’s worth noting that this isn’t a museum: everything appears to be for sale, it’s just selling very slowly.


The prices, it’s worth noting, haven’t been frozen. These five-piece practice putting sets are going for 1750 baht, which is US$54. Vintage sets of golf clubs are going for 25,000 baht.

Upstairs is a wonderland of ancient musical instruments and exercise machinery:


“If you try one machine for five minutes,” the owner of the store explained to the Bangkok Post. “it is equal to riding a horse for five laps.”

The third floor, the stairway of which is seen below, is closed to the public, but you can see photos of the beauty salon here, and it features prominently in this music video. The owner again: “Any woman who stepped inside the Merle Norman Cosmetics Studio would turn out to be a beautiful lady.”


If you need a vibraphone in Bangkok, this is a fine place to buy one.

The good ladies running the store thought that my picture-taking was detracting from their retail efforts, and I was told not to take any more. I don’t think that was actually true, but I didn’t take any more pictures.

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