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Looking Back: The rise and fall of Chiang Mai

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Looking Back: The rise and fall of Chiang Mai | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Chiang Mai has existed as a city for over 700 years. It is older than Bangkok and probably as old as Sukhothai. In the past, Chiang Mai was the capital of the Kingdom of Lanna, an independent kingdom rich in resources and unique in its culture and traditions.

The city was founded by King Mengrai, who came to the throne of a unified Tai state in the north. Mengrai was a good king and shrewd general. He managed to carve out a kingdom of his own by conquering Muang Lai, Chiang Kham and Chiang Khong. In 1262, he founded the city of Chiang Rai as his new capital.

In 1287, King Mengrai entered into a peace agreement with King Ngam Muang of Phayao and King Ram-khamhaeng of Sukhothai. It was a historically significant peace agreement that bonded the three in a strong pact of friendship.

In 1291, King Mengrai waged war on the Kingdom of Haripunchai. Yi Ba, the last Mon King of Haripunchai, was forced to flee to Lampang. With his victory, King Mengrai added the rich lands of Haripunchai to his territory. In 1294, the king decided to relocate his capital from Chiang Rai. He chose a site, which is today known as Wiang Kum Kam, a historic settlement and archaeological site situated along the Ping River. However, even back then, the city was prone to flooding.

King Mengrai looked to move his capital once again. This time, he invited King Ngam Muang of Phayao and King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai to help design and build a suitable city, which would serve as the seat of power for his kingdom.

The three kings helped build the city and named it Nopburi Sri Nakhon Ping Chiang Mai, the ‘Chiang Mai’ meaning ‘new city’. Over the years Chiang Mai grew to become the most powerful city in the Lanna region. According to an ancient stone inscription found at Chiang Man temple, one of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai city was built on April 12, 1296.

By the end of the 15th century, a new power had emerged in the region. The Kingdom of Ayutthaya was expanding and had conquered the city-states of Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet and Phitsanulok. Before long, Ayutthaya was waging war with the ancient Kingdom of Angkor. Once a great empire, it was now in decline. Ayutthaya grew to fill the power vacuum in the central plains of Siam.

In 1441, political instability in the north gave Ayutthaya an opportunity to invade the Lanna Kingdom. However the new king, Tilokkarat, would prove to be one of the most capable rulers in Chiang Mai’s history. Under his rule, the northern kingdom fought back. The war continued for many years, with neither kingdom really gaining the upper hand.

King Tilokkarat was a strong patron of Theravada Buddhism. He renovated many Buddhist temples in his kingdom. During his reign, the northern kingdom expanded vastly. A city wall and moat was built around the city of Chiang Mai to protect it from attacks. Lanna would always have a bitter relationship with its southern neighbor Ayutthaya.

After the death of King Tilokkarat, Chiang Mai’s Royal families feuded among themselves and vied for power. It was the start of a decline that would reduce the northern kingdom from an independent state to a tributary of Ayutthaya and, later on, Burma.

— Craig Burton

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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50 dogs rescued from alleged Chiang Mai puppy farm

Jack Burton



50 dogs rescued from alleged Chiang Mai puppy farm | The Thaiger
PHOTOS: Sanook

A raid on an alleged puppy farm owned by an American man in Chiang Mai has resulted in the rescue of some 50 Thai Ridgeback dogs. Non-profit organisation Watchdog Thailand says most of the dogs were found in terrible condition and many more had died from illness and starvation.

The owner claimed the dogs were kept as pets and he was not breeding them for sale, but evidence indicated otherwise. Tiny cages were stacked on top of each other. The animals had no space to play or exercise. Their waste was everywhere, and some were still left where they had died.

Watchdog Thailand representatives went to the Sarapee Police Station in Chiang Mai to file animal cruelty charges against the 73 year old American man, who they claim has been breeding Thai Ridgebacks to sell and export to buyers abroad. The owner himself contacted Watchdog asking for help, claiming that he’s become ill and can no longer take care of his “pets” – more than 50 dogs. Watchdog went the location and discovered the dogs living in extremely unhygienic conditions. Most had scabies and were starving. They immediately contacted the police and the Chiang Mai Department of Livestock Development.

Representatives rescued the dogs and moved them to the Save Elephant Foundation in Mae Rim district. The man would not give up 5 dogs that were still healthy. The foundation disagreed as, by his own admission, the man lacks the ability to care for them. Watchdog realised that they needed police involvement to help save the remaining 5 dogs.

Animal lovers abroad report that the man has a history of animal cruelty. He has allegedly been breeding and selling the dogs at very high prices without a license. Watchdog Thailand wants to bring all the dogs into their care, and the the Chaing Mai DLD agrees that the man can no longer take responsibility for them. He has filed a police report claiming that Watchdog stole his dogs.

50 dogs rescued from alleged Chiang Mai puppy farm | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: Thai Residents | Sanook | Watchdog Thailand

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Thailand growing more expensive for expats

Jack Burton



Thailand growing more expensive for expats | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Business Traveller

According to Employment Conditions Abroad, Bangkok and Chiang Mai are among the 30 most expensive cities for expats in Asia. The capital of Turkmenistan might not spring to mind when with considering the priciest cities, but according to ECA International it ranks first on both the global and Asian tables, a 5 point rise up the rankings due to an ongoing economic crisis, food shortages and the resulting hyperinflation.

The survey is performed in March and September every year, based on a basket of items such as rents and utility fees. Car prices and school fees are not included.

In Asia, Bangkok ranks 28th, just above Chiang Mai, according to the latest ECA International survey on the cost of living for expatriates. But it dropped out of the top 50 global rankings from the report released in December 2019. In global rankings, Bangkok is now at 60 and Chiang Mai at 142. Bangkok has lost a good deal of its former appeal for budget-conscious travellers and expatriates, rising 64 places over the past 5 years, according to the survey.

ECA says a rapidly expanding economy and increased foreign investment, at least, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, made Thailand more expensive, fuelled by the strengthening baht.

“The baht has strengthened considerably, making the country more expensive for expatriates and tourists. However, this trend has slowed over the past year, partly in response to government attempts to weaken the baht in order to keep the country competitive.”

Hong Kong is the second most expensive city in Asia after Ashgabat (Turkmenistan), but ahead of Tokyo and Singapore. Singapore is rated the most expensive place for expats in Southeast Asia and has led that ranking for many years.

Hong Kong remains sixth in the global standings, 1 place ahead of the Japanese capital. Singapore was fourteenth in Asia, dropping 2 notches from the previous survey.

Ashgabat’s sudden rise to the top of the is largely attributable to the economic dilemmas of Turkmenistan’s government, according to ECA. The energy-rich Central Asian nation faces severe inflation, and a black market for foreign currencies has caused the cost of imports to rise. Both factors have sparked a large increase in the costs visitors pay.

The ECA says Chinese cities fell across the board due to signs of a weakening economy and poorly performing currency, even before Covid-19 began taking its toll.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai International Airport sees more traffic

Jack Burton



Chiang Mai International Airport sees more traffic | The Thaiger

Northern Thailand’s gateway airport is recovering some of its flight and passenger traffic. With the easing of travel restrictions enforced to fight the spread of Covid-19, the director of Chiang Mai’s international airport says traffic is picking up, and more flights and passengers are expected this month. On average, the airport received 40 flights and about 4,000-5,000 passengers per day last month. The number of flights is expected to rise to an average of 68 a day, and passenger figures are predicted to jump 50% this month.

Currently, flights operate only on domestic routes including those between Chiang Mai and other hub airports: U-Tapao, Hat Yai, Ubon Ratchathani, and Udon Thani. International flights are likely to return slowly after the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand announced the lifting of the ban on international flights, under a set of restriction, effective on June 29.

Analysts agree inbound flights will not quickly return to pre-Covid levels, as air travel to and from the main markets remains suspended.

The CAAT’s announcement coincided with the release of the International Air Transport Association’s figures for passenger demand in May, which dropped 91.3% compared to the same time last year. This was a mild improvement from the 94% annual decline recorded in April.

The IATA’s director-general and CEO, says there’s tremendous uncertainty about what impact a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in key markets could have.

“May was not quite as terrible as April. That’s about the best thing that can be said.”

International passenger demand fell 98.3% year on year in May, virtually unchanged from the 98.4% recorded in April. Capacity plummeted 95.3%, and load factor sank 51.9 percentage points to 28.6%, meaning just over a quarter of seats, on average, were filled.

Financially struggling Thai Airways said yesterday, that its passenger numbers fell by 4.5 million to 3.5 million in the first 5 months of the year. The airline’s cabin factor, the percentage of available seating capacity actually filled by passengers, tumbled to 69%, down from 78% in the same period last year.

The figures were calculated before the national flag carrier suspended all flights in early May due to the pandemic, although the airline had already been in the red long before that. With a debt burden of 244.9 billion baht, the airline is awaiting the Central Bankruptcy Court’s decision on whether to admit its petition for debt rehabilitation on Aug 18. If the court accepts the case for a hearing, a rehab plan will be drawn up – subject to approval from creditors.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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