Bangkok sightless simulation opens eyes

Visiting the National Science Museum’s Science Square’s Dialogue in the Dark proved to be a highlight of our family vacation in Bangkok. Stop by in the morning – it opens at 10am on weekdays, 10.30am on weekends – to request an English speaking guide, which can usually be arranged later that day. Combined with a visit to the Red Cross Snake Farm next door, it’s full day of learning. Chamchuri Square, the shopping mall and office complex that’s home to Science Square has a variety of food options from food court to fancier options, with a station on the Thai capital’s MRT subway system in the basement.

Enough from me. I’ll let my 12 year old daughter tell you what she thinks.

During my recent trip to Bangkok, my father and I decided to go visit Dialogue in the Dark. This program first caught my attention when I was surfing the web for activities in Bangkok. It was a very intriguing concept: a simulation of the everyday life of a blind person in complete darkness, with a visually impaired tour guide.
While my mother was busy sketching, my father and I walked to NSM Science Square [at Chamchuri Square, 4th floor; MRT to Sam Yan, exit 2]. There, we were greeted by an employee at the counter, who gave a brief guide to how the simulation would work. He showed us how to use a white cane (a stick used by the visually impaired to navigate their surroundings). After his explanation, he led us to the simulation, which was a series of many large rooms, designed to replicate everyday places. The thing is it was completely dark.

Our tour guide Jacky spoke English and was very polite. He introduced himself and told us not to be shy if we had any questions. The rooms he lead through were resembled the real world so much that, if nobody had told me that it was all fake, I would have believed that it was the real world. As we journeyed through, we had to perform certain tasks, like walking across a rickety bridge in a park or trying to guess which fruits or vegetables I was holding in a market.

One of the highlights was the tuk-tuk ride. In this part of the simulation, we boarded a tuk-tuk. and it was so realistic that I’m still unsure whether it moved or not. The ride was accompanied by whipping winds, mud splattering on us and the vehicle swaying from side to side.

At the end of the journey, Jacky and us sat down on a sofa, ate snacks and talked. We asked questions, and he was very friendly.

Dialogue in the Dark is a unique and enlightening experience that made me understand and feel empathy for the blind population around the world. I wholeheartedly recommend it for all people of all ages. It changed my perspective of the world.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a contributor to Forbes Asia, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.