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18/04/15_Report_Songkran City Special

Only two intrepid hikers turned up for this urban hike in the Songkran holiday.

Group photo

We set off from the north-west (Hua Lin) corner of the moat. “Hua Lin” apparently means head+aqueduct, and indeed we noted a sluice with water rushing into the moat there. At that corner when driving I have always been intrigued by the appearance of a French-rococo palace inside the city. We would find out more when returning at the end of our loop.

What is that French-rococo palace?

Continuing along the north side of the moat, we found vendors beginning to set up their stalls for the day, to sell plastic water-guns and associated gizmos, along with comestible refreshments. We next paused at the exquisite Wat Lok Moli, where we came across the ceremony for supplying water in front of the Buddha image high on the stupa, using strings and pulleys and a golden bird escorting the bamboo water-jug.

Refilling the jug taking water by string-lift to the Buddha image on the stupa at Wat Lok Moli

We entered the old city by the Chang Phueak (North) Gate, and continuing eastwards along relatively quiet backstreets, until emerging near the north-east (Sri Poom) corner, where we visited the wonderfully sagging rampart.

Sagging rampart at Sri Poom corner

From there we walked toward the river. The outer wall of the US Consulate is decorated with murals, some of which already have nostalgia value.

Detail of mural on US Consulate outer wall, by Suksa Songkhro Chiangmai School

On the other side of the road, there’s more nostalgia outside the Municipality Disaster Prevention and Mitigation offices.

Old fire engine, Chiang Mai Municipality offices

After walking a little along the river embankment, we entered the Wororot Market area. Then on to Wat Saen Fang and Thapae Road.

Double Goose (or Swan?) shop in Wororot Market area

 

Wheel mounted inside the stupa enclosure at Wat Saen Fang

 

Old wooden house on Thapae Road

At Thapae Gate, a Lanna Cultural space had been created for the morning, before the afternoon’s Songkran procession and the evening’s public competition to find Mr and Ms Songkran. But we didn’t wait for those. Instead we made for the Three Kings area, where we passed by Wat Inthakin.

Elaborately decorated silver-coloured door near Wat Inthakin

Reaching the north-side moat again, we found the street-life was warming up: a pretty scene among the blossing Golden Shower (Cassia Fistula) trees along the banks.

Songkran street life, near Wat Rajamontean, looking toward Wat Lok Moli

Buddha statue at Wat Rajamontean

While still inside the moat, we found that the French-rococo palace we’d seen earlier is the Pingdoi Hua Lin Botique (sic) Hotel. But was it something else previously? Built for a never-realized visit by Napoleon III, perhaps? Anyone know?

By the time we reached the finishing-straight, the Songkran day was becoming wet as well as warm. We were happy to reach our parked cars before the traditional traffic gridlock around the old city.

 

Conclusion: Urban hikes are worthwhile too, perhaps sometimes as gentler alternatives to a country hike. Add a comment if you have other ideas for similar hikes – especially if you would like to help lead one.

 

Report by Michael. Photos by Michael and Bob.

 

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