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Chiang Saen Lake

A PLEASANT SIDE trip from Chiangrai is northeast to the sleepy little town of Chiang Saen, a spellbinding spot where the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos meet. In addition to the ancient ruins there is a large swampy area about 2,711 square meters in size. Because this area is surrounded by mountains and there are many kinds of birds migrating here throughout the year, it was designated to be a wildlife preserve on April 4, 1985. The large swamp called Chiang Saen Lake is located at Chiang Saen District not far from Mae Jun District at 21 kms and just before the heart of Chiang Saen about 4 kms.

As with most unusual scenic phenomenon found in Thailand there is a legend about Chiang Saen Lake. A long time ago a city sat at the edge of the swamp. The governor set free ducks and geese to add beauty to the swamp, however, an albino white eel continuously ate the ducks and geese one by one every day until the fowls had disappeared.

One day the governor asked villagers to gather all the cotton and to make fishing lines. Then woven lines were fastened on the backs of the geese that were again set free into the swamp. When the white eel came out to eat the tender prey, it was caught and killed. With great excitement the villagers divided the white eel among themselves and ate it as a delicacy.

Soon after an angel visited a widow's house, asking her about some peculiar smell in the air. The widow told him that the villagers had recently caught and ate a white eel. The angel asked her if she had eaten any. She answered 'no'. The angel was satisfied with her answer and told her that when she heard a loud noise at midnight, she should not leave her house.

At the midnight, the widow heard loud unearthly noises. She felt the earth shake while her house trembled from the strong winds that were blowing. Just as she went to investigate the eery sound, she suddenly remembered the warning of the angel so she changed her mind. The next morning as the sun shone a bleak light, she saw only a big lake remaining. The city and all villagers had disappeared. Then the widow realized the white eel, was a gift of the gods and it should have been venerated by the people.

Now it is very difficult to observe big birds flying wild and free because the forests have been cut down. Visitors can see various birds migrating from Europe at certain times of the year at Chiang Saen Lake. Thousand of birds can be seen at Chiang Saen Lake in November and December every year. Visitors are lucky to be in Chiangrai now as it is the best time to go bird watching at Chiang Saen Lake.

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