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Loong Piang...
Chiangmai's Patriotic Citizen

Empires rise and fall, economies expand and contract, dictators rule and flee. Nations conquer, and are conquered. This is the nature of humanity and society, and is perhaps inevitable.

Thailand has seen all of the aforementioned changes. The land that is now Thailand was, at one time, the "property" of Mons, Khmers, Burmese and Tais. It has seen its fair share of wars -- of invasion, internecine jealousies and conflicts, power struggles and -- perhaps most common of all -- greed. Can individuals, acting out of purely patriotic and selfless motives, affect the future of nations?

This land of northern Thailand, once the proud Kingdom of "Lanna" has suffered periodic invasions in its 800 year history. At one time, the country was besieged by a hostile foreign kingdom. Chiangmai, protected by its moat and walls, which the enemy could not penetrate, stood alone. The enemy was having difficulty in maintaining its food supplies from a hostile countryside. Stocks of weapons were running low. The soldiers, far from home, were becoming dispirited and demoralized. Inside the city, conditions were desperate. People were starving. Disease was spreading. It was obvious to the commanders of both armies that the sacrifice needed by either side to prevail was too great. In a typically Asian manner, it was decided that a trial of strength should take place between "champions" of either side.

The invaders produced a strapping young man for the battle. Two meters high, with bulging muscles, he was a forbidding figure. Chiangmai's champion was rather disappointing in appearance. About fifty, Loong Piang, thin and weedy with a pathetic little paunch, the invaders champion barely suppressed a chuckle on their meeting -- but the two men respectfully made a "wai" each other. The challenge was this; both men were to dive into the moat. Whichever man stayed under the water longest would be the victor. If the enemy triumphed, Chiangmai would deliver tribute -- white elephants, young maidens, gold -- whatever was demanded. If Chiangmai triumphed, the enemy would sign a pact of peace to their own kingdom, and retire.

The moment came, the referees gave a signal, and the audience drew their breath -- as did the contestants. Loong Piang inhaled a ready little gasp the enemies champion gulped a giant draught of air into his enormous lungs. Both dived into the water, naked but for their sarongs. After over three minutes, the invader's champion struggled to the surface, gulping air with desperate inhalations. He, and his army, were incredulous that there was no sign of Loong Piang, who simply did not reappear. He could not have died, because dead bodies float. The enemy regarded the people or Chiangmai with awe. Did they possess some supernatural power? Whatever the reason, the invading army, with the greatest respect for their intended victims, withdrew, leaving Chiangmai, and the kingdom of Lanna free.

After their withdrawal, the King ordered his troops to dive into the moat to look for Loong Piang. They found him. He had tied his feet to a rock at the bottom of the moat with his sarong, and drowned. He sacrificed his life for his nation. The king built a white jedee to this great hero. It still stands to this day on Wichayanond road, by the river near the U.S. consulate.


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