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Interesting history - Some corner of a foreign field

Started by thaiga, August 15, 2020, 03:39:02 PM

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Some corner of a foreign field: the story of the Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery
Pim Kemasingki looks at the history and talks to the guardians of Chiang Mai's Foreign Cemetery

On a shady patch of well-groomed land, flanked by a gentle brook which separates it from the bucolic grounds of the Chiengmai Gymkhana Club, lies the Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery, a unique piece of real estate in Thailand, where foreigners may own small plots of land for perpetuity, a privilege only accorded at death.

The land is shaped like a pyramid, crowned at its northern tip by a bronze statue of Queen Victoria, her gaze fixed on the small chapel in front of her and the headstones spread out below.

This cemetery is the manifestation of the history of the past hundred or so years of the Chiang Mai expat community. The first American Presbyterian Mission was established by the intrepid Reverend Daniel McGilvary in 1867 and the British Consulate was opened in 1884, to support the administrative outposts in northern Thailand and eastern areas of Burma as well as the growing teak trade.

By 1898 there were twelve Brits based in Chiang Mai with many more scattered in far flung stations and it was then that the British Consul, W.R.D. Beckett was asked to petition the Thai government for a grant of land to be used as a cemetery. King Rama V, signed, and in parts hand wrote, the Royal Deed of Gift of 24 rai of land to the Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery that year, incidentally the same year he also gave 90 rai of land to the foreigners of Chiang Mai to form the Chiengmai Gymkhana Club next door.

The conditions of the gift were that the land may never be sold, that it may be used only 'for the burial of the bodies only of foreigners', and that the 'British Consul be the custodian of the land in perpetuity'.

lots more @ chiangmaicitylife.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


The Hidden Temple: Wat Pha Lat            video below
Wat Pha Lat, a hidden temple nestled in the jungle. A Chiang Mai secret waiting to be discovered. 

By Sloane Gordon
Nestled in a lush green mountain away from the chaos of Chiang Mai's city streets lies Wat Pha Lat, a jungle temple paradise. Jungle temples, as opposed to community temples that are found in the city, serve primarily as a calm place for monks to live and meditate. With old stone buildings, intricate carvings and statues, and plenty of breathtaking places to meditate, it's clear why people claim Wat Pha Lat is a hidden gem in Chiang Mai.

After a beautiful winding drive up a mountain, you divert to a small side road and the site appears out of nowhere, with two white statues welcoming visitors to the entrance of the temple grounds. Stairs wind around the temple, beginning at the viharn and pagodas in the uppermost area and leading down to another complex of buildings that blend seamlessly with the nature around them. While the area is landscaped, the natural beauty still shines amidst the lush forest grounds. Further in, a waterfall trickles down a sheet of rock where the trees open up for a beautiful view of the city. To the right lies a number of caves that contain ancient cloaked statues and various artifacts. Wat Pha Lat, which translates to "Monastery at the Sloping Rock", is serene and mostly unvisited, as it is typically overshadowed by the ever-popular Wat Doi Suthep. In 1355, the temple was constructed after King Kuena's white elephant died at the site of Wat Doi Suthep and he ordered construction of temples where it perished and where it took breaks to rest. Originally, Wat Pha Lat was a resting place for monks during their pilgrimage to the larger temple atop the hill, but after the road was built in 1935, its primary use shifted to a meditation site for monks. Just below the temple, there is a small ancient bridge, and if you cross it and continue down the path you can find a hiking trail leading to the city below that can be done in under an hour. Whether you're looking for a getaway from the busy city, a great view of Chiang Mai without tonnes of people, or a lovely place to watch the sunset, Wat Pha Lat is the perfect place to go.

Head west towards the Chiang Mai Zoo, and once you reach the entrance, continue past it up a winding road. After 5 kilometers, you will see a road for the entrance to the temple on the left.  chiangmaicitylife.com

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Wat Umong 13th century The Tunnel Temple        video below

Among the hundreds of Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai, the Wat Umong or "Tunnel temple" is unique because of its location in the forest and its system of tunnels. The serene and peaceful atmosphere at the 13th century forest temple near Doi Suthep mountain provides a welcome change from the much visited sites in Chiang Mai.

The temple's full name is Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham, which translates to "Temple of the tunnels and Buddha Dhamma garden".

A number of tunnels dug out of a mound contains shrines with Buddha images, where devotees can pay their respect to the Buddha.

The large, shady temple grounds are often filled with the sounds of monks' chanting. The temple's setting in a forested area with a natural lake makes the Wat Umong an excellent place for meditation. The meditation center hosts meditation classes and Dhamma talks.

History of the Wat Umong

The Wat Umong was founded at the end of the 13th century by King Mengrai, first King of the Lanna Kingdom and founder Chiang Mai.

According to local legend, the King regularly consulted a monk who lived at the Wat Umong Maha Thera Chan, a temple located within the old city walls of Chiang Mai. The monk named Thera Chan used a tunnel to meditate in peace and quiet.

When the city of Chiang Mai grew bigger and more crowded, the monk found it more and more difficult to meditate. King Mengrai wanted to accommodate the monk and ordered a number of tunnels dug out in a man made mound outside the city, in a forested area bordering Doi Suthep mountain. The tunnels were lined with brick walls, plastered and Buddhist murals were painted. Shrines with images of the Buddha were added, giving the monk a new place to meditate in peace and quiet.

The temple was abandoned during the 15th century. Only in 1948 the temple was restored and one year later reopened as a center for meditation and Buddhist teachings. Today the Wat Umong is an active temple with resident monks. The ancient tunnels have been restored. Unfortunately, most of the murals have disappeared.

On top of the mound is a large, circular bell shaped chedi. The Lanna style chedi has recently been restored. Near the chedi is a black image of a very thin fasting Buddha in the ascetic style. The kuti, the monks living quarters, are scattered in the forest.  more @ renown-travel.com

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Phu Phra Bat Historical Park
Phu Phra Bat historical park is notable for its array of unusual rock formations – borne of underwater erosions 15 million years ago – which civilisations past used as canvases for art and religious worship. Paintings are easily distinguishable on many of the rocks, while some are more faded; the oldest are thought to date back 6,000 years. As well as these prehistoric remnants, evidence of Dvaravati and Khmer culture in the park's temples and shrines can also be found.

By Theppitak Karoonboonyanan

Hor Nang Usa (above) is the park's most notable rock formation and is the stuff of legend: an overprotective mythical king was thought to have forced his princess daughter to live inside it, before she managed to escape with her prince charming. A shrine has also been constructed here.

the site has many rocks of peculiar shapes which resulted from glacial movement millions of years ago.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


The Temple With a View


The Temple With a View: Wat Phu Tok
This'll take the wind out yer sails if you ever visit Wat Phu Tok, what a trudge. the video below with Scott Mallon known as, An American in Bangkok. He's visiting Wat Phu Tok a temple perched on top of a mountain with a view of Thailand, Laos and the Mekong River. it really is quite stunning, it's name literally means 'Temple of the Table Mountain', if your a bit on the nervous side, you may think twice about scaling the side of the mountain. seven levels of wooden ladders, steps, rocks and roots on the mountain which represent the seven levels of spiritual enlightenment in Buddhist philosophy, it's a quiet mountain and a place of peace and respect, well worth the effort for the view. i hope it's safer than it looks.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


The Last Days of an Ancient Sword


The Last Days of an Ancient Sword

For centuries, the curved Dha was the sword of choice for the warriors of southeast Asia. In a small foundry in northeast Thailand, the art of making them lives on. but for how long.

Despite its rich history, depicted everywhere from the walls of Angkor Wat to the movements of Thai Krabi Krabong masters, the Dha is endangered. The traditional methods of smithing the Dha are slowly fading as older craftsmen die without having passed on their skills.

On a small rural road in the suburbs of Lampang in Northern Thailand, tucked behind a buzzing Tesco Lotus sign, sits one of the last traditional Dha sword makers in southeast Asia. Ajarn Kor Neeow is one of the few sword masters in southeast Asia who continues the art of Dha making. For that, he is known as the best sword smith in Thailand. All his swords are forged from imported high-quality Japanese steel and are all hand finished by his team of craftsmen. The build quality is so high and his reputation so far reaching that he has even made swords for the King of Thailand. The craft may be endangered, but as long as Ajarn Kor Neeow's hammer strikes, it is not dead.

Thai Blacksmith Making Traditional Thai Dhab Swords in Lampang, Thailand

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


The 'Egg boy'  

The popularity of the legend of Ai Khai (egg boy) -- believed to be the spirit of a boy with the power to grant people wishes -- has increased dramatically in recent months.

While other parts of the country are still in the economic doldrums as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ai Khai has worked miracles for the economy of Nakhon Si Thammarat as tourists continue streaming into the southern province to seek blessings from the famous statue of the boy at a local temple.

The frequent deafening noise of firecrackers speaks volumes of the faith people have in the statue's spirit and its power to make wishes come true.


Legend has it that Ai Khai was a young disciple of a revered monk from the South in the Ayutthaya period. The monk told the boy to guard a treasure trove at the place where the temple currently is located.

Unfortunately, the boy drowned in a nearby river, yet worshippers believe his spectral presence still lingers on in the temple's premises. Ai Khai is a common nickname used by people in the South for small boys.
Interest in the story of Ai Khai had been growing after word spread that visitors to the temple had been granted their wishes -- such as lottery wins, business success, and the recovery of lost or stolen items.

Inside a pavilion in the temple's premises stands a wooden statue of a boy aged between nine and 10, which is believed to be where the spirit of Ai Khai resides.

The main entrance of Wat Chedi, where the original statue stands, is adorned by plaster rooster statues of all sizes. An area is also set aside for visitors to light up firecrackers.

People who had their wishes granted follow the customary practice of setting off firecrackers and donating rooster statues to the spirit of Ai Khai.

Military camouflage uniforms, black glasses and slingshots are also among the most popular offerings presented by the faithful in return for the favours received.  full article bangkokpost.com

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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