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Paknampho Memories Museum  
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Museum of Nakhon Sawan’s Past Revisited
By: (1127) | Date: December 13, 2016

          “We compiled data on the histories of our many places to form a picture of Nakhon Sawan in the past, to boast the good things we had – those things that were our prides. The ways of life in each particular place are the evidence of our great past.  The display may not seem like a meaningful one but it actually portrays the real scenes of the houses, the shops and the histories associated with them.
          “In our visitors’ book, some children wrote that they were proud to be Nakhon Sawan locals.  They loved their hometown. This really made our efforts worthwhile, because the exhibition is meant to tell about the things that are our prides, about the love for our native place, for being Nakhon Sawan people.  We also want the museum to be something that fosters good relationship within families.  It is good to see adults as well as children come here.  They point to each others this and that, and chat among themselves.”
          The exhibition that made alive Nakhon Sawan town of days gone by was held at the Fairy Land Department Store. It happened as an aftermath of a contest, held 4 years back, to create the best emblem that would represent the origin spot of the Chao Phraya River. Khun Santi Khunakorn, managing director of the Fairy Land and member of the River Origin Conservation Club of Pak Nam Pho City, had stories about their endeavors to compile the data and documents that would facilitate the judges coming from the Siam Architect Society to make the selections.  There were 10 finalists in all.
          “Our task included gathering nationwide opinions about what the logo should be like.  We also held meetings of different age groups, did public relations work via some F.M. radio stations, opened a website, and finally even did a public hearing.”
          The activities bore fruit.  A temporary exhibition followed, which later became a permanent one, and is still standing until now. “Ours is a museum in the store.  Sometimes some shops are hesitant to lend us their things for display.  So we need to have those items registered, give each owner one copy and keep ours.
          What made me consider our job successful was this incident. One day a board bearing a shop name Boon Kim Yong was delivered to us together with a note.  The note read, ‘Our ancestors came in a junk to Siam in 1921 in order to do some trade here.  Eventually they settled down in the area called Chun Hong Lane.  The business has continued until today.  Our grandparents would have been proud to see the nameplate of their shop in the museum and that it would remain forever here, in this Nakhon Sawan town.’”
          Khun Santi had more to say about the museum as having been originated from voluntary work of the proud Nakhon Sawan residents.  “It was due to the fact that when the Chinese moved in, they soon became part of the cradle of the Chao Phraya culture.  The museum became better known, so more people brought in more things to present to us.  So there was then this necessity to have the exhibit pieces grouped.  We also needed partitions so that each small space would look like different shops decorated by the owners themselves.  Lots of nameplates were given until we were able to have a separate display of ‘Old Nameplates Telling Nakhon Sawan Stories.’  We didn’t do things in the really academic way. We just did it our own way, the Nakhon Sawan way, since the story tellers as well as the display organizers are fellow Nakhon Sawan people.”
          So while strolling in the display room, it would not be surprising if one was to feel being engulfed in the past.  We ourselves started from “Nakhon Sawan, First Kilometer” and then journeyed back through time. The display featured 3 main zones: “Old Pak Nam Pho Market,” “Nakhon Sawan Dragon Descendants,” and “Old Nameplates Telling Nakhon Sawan Stories.”
          In the first display, the space was divided as old shophouses with specific exhibits such as nameplates, photos of certain important house members, special tools and utensils for each particular business. Display boards, in A3 paper size, told the shops’ stories, their histories and successful businesses.  Some businesses were discontinued because the younger ones changed to pursue other goals.  A number of trades are able to thrive until the present time because the owners have made some initiations that conform with the current social trends and changes.
          The Department Store manager Khun Thanomsak guided us around. “We followed King Rama V’s footsteps. He had made a boat trip to Nakhon Sawan.  In his time, anyone making trips to or from Bangkok needed to pass by Nakhon Sawan.  There were photos of the King and the Queen’s visit.  It was an honor to welcome them here.
          “About trading in those days, here’s Peng Lee shop which introduced Coca-Cola to us.  Their riverside house showed how good the business was. It’s now used only as a residence. There’s Thai Udom O-sot shop, which concocted their own medicine for sale. They were famous for their herbal medicinal solutions.  The younger generation, however, didn’t carry on the trade.
          “A grocery shop Leng Ia owned by the Suebwonglee family defies the modern trend by not becoming a 7-11 convenience store. The shop in this sense is historic. On this side are the old Chalermchat Movie House and the food shops. The ice factory here shows their local wisdom using shaved wood to cover ice blocks so that they wouldn’t melt too fast.  The old measurement units of ice were also interesting – in “mue” and “kak.”
          In the business zone, there were the gold shop Ho Tek Mong (there are still quite a number of gold shops in Nakhon Sawan now), the photo shop Sri Silp (with displays of a printer, 1-lens and 2-lens cameras) still operated by the younger generation, the Chai-nan Pharmacy (still operating) selling traditional Thai and Chinese medicines, the fabric shop Khow Kai Seng run by the Khunawong family, and here’s the Serm Saeng Electric, Sales and Services.
          “The Ha Seng fish sauce factory used to have tons of anchovy at that time. No more so is the situation right now. So they have switched to a crocodile farm instead.  Now in Nakhon Sawan we no longer have factories that make genuine fish sauce.  The Ek-seng was an old-time grocery shop.  The Tang Teng Long sold basketry things … The Niphon Kesa was a beauty salon and school.  The Lim Kuan Yu still sells knitting yarns.  That’s an old-time coffeeshop, no longer operating. And there’s a cheap hotel, closed down some time ago.”
          The vivid stories told by Khun Thanomsak really made the past seem real. Visitors are welcome to go right into these old shops, but must be careful when touching the displayed things, or actually should not touch them at all, so that hopefully they will always remain there for other people to view and admire.  We proceeded to Zone 2.  Its name at the entrance read “The Dragon Descendants of Nakhon Sawan.”
          This exhibition traced back to the geological location of Nakhon Sawan, which was explained by means of a model old city.  This replica was given by Nakhon Sawan City.  The explanation boards had stories of the 5 Chinese groups that moved into the area, their tradition of doing dragon processions and the processions as homage for Chao Po-Chao Mae Pak Nam Pho. Important displays were the dragons and lions used in the dances and the colorful costumes of the dancers, all adding up to a very interesting presentation.
          Another remarkable display was an old city map showing some important spots that existed over 50 years ago.  These attraction spots included the shop zone, the temples, the railway station, the Dechatiwong Bridge just newly built. Here the interactive technique was used, which made the presentation the more interesting for viewers. The old pictures of the streets too took us back to years gone by.
Then we were in the last zone “Old Nameplates Telling Stories of Nakhon Sawan.” Khun Thanomsak picked the Thavorn Farm nameplate. “They did a chicken farm, later switched to the public bus business instead. These are old photos of the first bus. Its presence in the city indicated that the road system was already becoming more popular. All other nameplates or business logos lining the walls were 60-70 years old at least. Old Chinese grandpas and grandmas love to bring the little ones in here. They’re obviously proud to point to the kids those old, old things.”  This pride of the Pak Nam Pho people seems to be sending a message that they wish to see that the things of the good old days are conserved while the younger generation are concentrating on the future development of their hometown.

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  Paknampho Memories Museum  
: Fairyland of Floor 5th, 162/10 Sawanwithi Rd., Paknampo, Mueang Nakhonsawan, Nakhonsawan 60000
: 0-5622-3051-60
: -
: 10 am. - 3 pm.
: -
: https://www.facebook.com/paknam
: -
: 2014
: nameplates of Pak Nam Pho market shops, merchandises in shops (e.g. drug stores, food shops, hotels), dragons used in processions in Nakhon Sawan’s public events, retro scenes of old-time market
Management : private
Story : history
Status : Open
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Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre 20 Baromaratchachonnani Rd, Taling Chan, Bangkok 10170
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