Our trip really started after we arrived in Chiang Mai. This is the biggest town, after Bangkok, and unofficialy considered the capital of the Northern Thailand. The name of the town means “the new town”. It has been founded by the King Meng Rai in 1296, and became the capital of the Lan Na Kingdom. In the town and its oustskirts exist over 300 Buddhist temples which, along with some old houses, show Lan Na style elements. Others present some Burmese elements due to the almost 200 years occupation by this people. Only in 1774, the locals helped by King Taksin, drived away the Burmese and Chiang Mai became part of Siam.
The tourists are more interested in the Old Town, encircled by a moat and walls. The people crossed the moat on bamboo bridges which could be retreated during the night. There were 4 gates to enter the town but in 15th. century a king built another one, The Suan Prung Gate, in order that his mother, living in a palace South of the wall, could enter and supervise the building of the Chedi Luang. Later on this gate was used for the funeral processions. The Tha Phae Gate, the main one, was reconstructed in the ’60 after a photo taken in 1891.
During the 2 days we stayed in the town we used for transportation only songthaew, “the red taxi”. One may stop it on the street by waving with the hand, palm oriented downward. A ride should cost 20 bht/person but usually they are asking “more” from the foreigners. It is no use to negociate here as it is, anyhow, very cheap. Tuk-tuks are “more expensive”, this means roughly 40 bht/person. The taxis, with meters, are reliable. We only used them twice: from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the bus station, on departure day.
There are many places where you may eat for different prices. The menus, written in English and with photos, help you to order.
The monks are everywhere and little shrines are to be seen near the buildings or shops. They are meant to defend people against the bad spirits.
Wandering on the streets, the tropical vegetation mingles with old Lan Na houses. Here and there you may see a golden chedi. The postal boxes are like the English ones, and I saw funny signs on the cars’plates, which I haven’t expected here…There are also graffiti and the street signs are very nice.
That’s almost all I observed in the town during the two days. In the rest of the time I was – obviously – visiting something…
Excursia noastra a inceput cu adevarat dupa ce am ajuns la Chiang Mai, cel mai mare oras al Thailandei dupa Bangkok, capitala neoficiala a nordului tarii.
Orasul, a carui denumire inseamna “orasul nou”, a fost fondat de catre regele Meng Rai in 1296 si a devenit capitala Regatului Lan Na. In oras si imprejurimi se afla peste 300 de temple budhiste, dintre care multe prezinta caracteristici ale stilului Lan Na. Altele, pastreaza elemente birmaneze, avand in vedere ocupatia de aproape 200 de ani, care a inceput in 1556, dupa ce birmanezii au cucerit regatul, punand capat dinastiei intemeiate de catre Meng Rai. In 1774, Chiang Mai devine parte a Regatului Siam, dupa ce regele Taksin i-a ajutat pe localnici sa ii alunge pe birmanezi.
Ceea ce intereseaza mai mult pe turisti este Orasul Vechi, inconjurat de santuri si ziduri de aparare, construite din caramida rosie. Santul era traversat pe poduri din bambus, care noaptea se puteau retrage. Initial, se intra in oras pe 4 porti dar, in secolul al 15-lea, regele a adaugat o poarta pentru ca mama sa, care isi avea palatul la sud de zid, sa poata intra sa supravegheze construirea Chediului Luang. Poarta Suan Prung a devenit cea folosita apoi pentru procesiuni funerare. Poarta cea mai importanta este cea de est, Poarta Tha Phae, al carei nume inseamna “ancorarea plutelor” (in vechime, oamenii veneau aici pe raul Ping, folosind plute). Poarta actuala a fost reconstruita in anii ’60, folosindu-se o fotografie a sa din 1891.