|The Unsinkable Titanic ... so far, so good.|
The experience at this exhibition is scarily realistic - too realistic! - given they have turned the air-conditioning to a ridiculously cold degree. I am sure most of will be on our deathbeds with pneumonia this time next week.
Still, our fate would be far better than the poor sods who set sail that April day exactly 100 years ago, which is why this show, officially called TITANIC; THE ARTIFACT EXHIBITION is now being staged.
Before you come aboard, you should know it is an expensive voyage at 500 baht per person. But really worth it if you want to soak yourself in the evocative and emotive side of the incident. Firstly, you are given a White Star Line boarding pass with a passenger's name on it and a few facts. So I am now Mr Benjamin Hart as I step aboard the grandest ship ever constructed (far too grand for me to afford 1st class which would cost today the equivalent of between $50-$100,000 for the trip.)
|That grand staircase ...|
It starts off with a detailed overview of the painstaking hot-rivet construction process, introduces you to the key crew (including the captain who was supposed to have retired but brought back for one last hurrah before sailing off into the sunset), and then into details of the journey itself.
Did you know that the Titanic burned 850 tons of coal per day, jing jing.
Menus are reprinted. Stacks of crockery, wallets, coins, jewellery all robotically retrieved from miles under the surface are on show. Ice warnings from other ships in the area rebroadcast and strangely ignored, as the Titanic sailed on at virtually full speed as other ships told of how they were stopped and surrounded by ice floes. (Or perhaps it's not that strange when the skipper is being feted with the finest champagnes on account of another successful crossing even though they were two days' sailing out of New York still).
|This, folks, is the actual iceberg that did the damage.|
The cruel fate of several passengers is spelled out. I, Mr Hart, for example was a talented builder travelling with my wife, Esther, and seven year old daughter, Eve. I had packed up my family and was heading for Canada to get a job in the booming town of Manitoba to get out of the financially-strapped problems I had found myself in back in Essex, England.
Poor Esther had misgivings about this ship and stayed up each night concerned for us, then slept through the day.
Feel for Frederick Goodwin though, who was on board with his family including six kids. They were booked on another liner, but their booking was changed over to put them on the Titanic instead. None of them survived.
Apart from sadness and melancholy, I emerge into the 34-degree celsius Bangkok afternoon feeling a little angry. Angry at the ineptitude of things. How, for instance, when the ship had taken 3 years to build, had the two lookouts been too busy to remember to pack simple equipment such as binoculars. Pretty simply thing, really.
|Row, row, row your boat ...|
The Titanic 100th Anniversary Exhibition 1912-2012 is on at CentralWorld Live, CentralWorld, 8th Floor, Bangkok (get off at Siam or Chitlom BTS stations) from 10am-10pm daily until September 02, 2012. Tickets at the door or from Thai Ticket Major.