Trip Start Jun 03, 2010
202Trip End Mar 29, 2011
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"A few weeks ago an Australian guy arrived in our village as the new boyfriend of one of Jai's old mates. Her sister lives next door to us and told us that the girld hadnt wanted the guy to come here at all just to send his money to her and that she had no interest in him at all other than getting as much cash from him as she could
baht, 300,000GBP, with him. I thought that I should probably keep out of things but when the sister next door asked me to intervene and tell him what the situation was because she was ashamed of what her sister was doing I had a quiet word in his ear. He wasnt overly surprised as since he arrived she hadnt even slept in the same room as him, went out on her own every day in the 4x4 that he bought for her, and generally ignored him. She also has a Thai boyfriend in the village. I would have thought that all of the evidence would have suggested, even to a
complete moron, that she was taking him to the cleaners but he wasnt entirely convinced. When I was out walking yesterday I passed him sat a bar on his own here in Chiangmai and was a little surprised. He had come to extend his visa but had received a phone call from the love of his life telling him that as soon as she had dropped him off at the airport she had left for Bangkok with her boyfriend in his car after having locked the village house and also told him not to bother coming back as she didnt want to see him again. Mid morning and already he was pretty drunk. From what I can gather she took him for about 60,000GBP and I guess he should consider himself lucky that it wasnt worse
Anyway, back to Chiangmai. Eat lunch in the room from our usual street vendor and then out for another walk in the afternoon exploring around the old city inside the moat. There has been quite a lot of changes here since the last time we were in town about a year ago. Incredibly, considering the complete absence of tourists people are still opening new bars !!
Eat by the side of the road in the evening from a young lad who has been cooking here each night for at least the last 7 years. Walk around the bar complex to say hello to a few familiar faces and for Jai to catch up on some of the gossip then on down to our usual bar for a couple of beers. The Ozzie guy sees us passing and joins us for a beer but as he has been drinking all day the conversation is a little dificult. Back to the main bar complex for 'just the one more' and a few games of pool before retiring about midnight again.
Each day we are here I will try to use an old article that I wrote for a local travel magazine a few years ago
THE DROWSY ELEPHANT WALK
The name of the walk will become clear later. This walk will take us from Tha Phae Gate to Sri Phum bastion in the north-east corner of the old city wall but will navigate through the lanes and alleyways either side of Chang Moi Road. The original gate at Tha Phae, which means 'raft landing' was built in 1296 when King Mengrai founded Chiangmai. It was then known as Chiang Ruak Gate after a neighbouring village. Tha Phae was the name given to the eastern gate in the city's earthen ramparts near Wat Saen Fang. This temple can still be found further east along Tha Phae Road at the junction with Rajchawong Road. Later the two gates became known as 'outer' and 'inner' Tha Phae Gate and when the 'outer' gate was taken down in the nineteenth century the current name came into use. The gate we see today was reconstructed in 1986/86 and is based upon historical records and a photograph dated 1899.
Standing facing away from the old city, head towards Starbucks and Tha Phae Road and take the first left into Chiang Moi Kao Road.
Backtrack to the Amora Hotel and take the small lane to your left and enter a quiet residential area that still has some traditional wooden houses. When you reach the T-junction turn right then almost immediately left. You will see a large viharn behind a wall and 25m will take you to the rear entrance of Wat Cheatawan. Built between 1442-1488, during the reign of Tilokaraj, it was named after the ancient monastery at Jentawan Wanarama in India where the Lord Buddha spent much time. You pass the monks dormitories and a bell tower on your left before entering a courtyard which, located just off the busy Tha Phae Road, has unfortunately become a car park. The viharn is richly decorated and beyond that are three exquisite chedis, showing their age but full of character with the sunlight reflecting from the coloured glass that adorns their tops. They are built in Burmese style probably by labourers of the British logging companies that were prevalent in Northern Thailand at the end of the nineteenth century.
From the entrance to the resort the golden stupa of Wat Chomphu is clearly visible. The temple here was originally built by King Keu Na at the request of his mother and named Wat Mai Pimpa after her. She believed that Wat Prathat Doi Suthep was too far away and too difficult for old people to visit and wanted something similar nearer to hand. The temple was later renamed after a monk, Chompoo, who was believed to have magical powers and often resided here. In 1998, to celebrate HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 50th year on the throne and Chiangmai's 700th anniversary (1996), it was decided to renovate Chedi Tong Janggo and it now looking at it's best.
Retrace your steps and then turn left into the lane before Karinthip Village. Turn right when you reach the fork in the road and enter another quiet residential area with more traditional housing
This corner marks the location of the former Chang Moi Gate or 'Gate of the Drowsy Elephant' that formed another part of the city's outer earthen wall as the 'outer' Tha Phae Gate had also. The gate and wall here were removed between 1910-1915 but at the same time an opening was made in the brick 'inner' wall and given the same name; Chang Moi Gate. Later this new gate was also demolished and now only Chang Moi Road still carries the 'drowsy elephant' name.
Descend briefly down a small slope and you will reach a narrow footbridge - also used by motorcycles ! - over the Khlong Mae Kha. I believe that with a little bit of effort this could be transformed into a particularly picturesque spot. Some work has ben carried out to the bridge and walkways constructed along the banks but it is now the canal itself that needs attention; cleaning
Follow the footpath to your left for some 100m until reaching the nect small bridge and then take the short path to your right and rejoin Sitthiwong Road. Walk to your right and when you reach the turn in the road observe - you can’t really fail to see it - the enormous tree that dominates the corner. I am no arborealist so am unable to give you either a botanical or common name for this giant but with branches stretching across the road it must be some age. If trees could talk I am sure that this one could provide a great insight into the history of this part of Chiangmai.
Follow Sitthiwong Road around the 90 degree bend and shortly before you reach Chaiyapoom Road and the moat take a right turn into a lane besides Wat Chai Sriphum. Note all of the freshly painted kneeling figures atop of the wall that surrounds the temple. At the end of this lane you reach Wichayanon Road and the entrance to the temple.
Briefly, Wat Chai Sriphum was built by King Phra Muang Kaeo in 1519 at Sri Phum - 'prosperity of the land'. Before that time a fig tree had stood on this spot and was considered a symbol of good luck for Chiangmai. The temple was renovated in the time of King Puthawong in 1837 and although it retains its original name it is popularly known as Wat Phan Ta Koen.
Taking Wichayanon Road to your left here will bring you to the north-east corner of the old city and the wall bastion of Sri Phum Corner across the moat. Our walk ends here. 400m along Chaiyapoom Road, following the moat to your left, will bring you back to Tha Phae Gate from whence we started.