Baan Hom (บ้านฮ่อม) community can be found in the Changklan District of Chiangmai encompassing the majority of the block between Kotchasarn (The Moat), Tha Pae, Loy Kroh and Gampangdin Roads. The district was originally settled by Thai Yuan peoples brought here in 1796 from Chiang Saen as part of Prince Gawila’s repopulation of Chiangmai. The area is now a maze of small roads and alleyways and with little motor traffic is ideal for a quiet stroll. If walking is too much of an effort, many samlors (3-wheeled cycles) can be found around these lanes and they would be more than happy to conduct your passage around this route.
We begin from Tha Pae Gate and head south along Kotchasarn Road taking a left turn after about 100 meters into Kotchasarn Road Lane 1. Continue straight ahead at the small crossroads and almost immediately you have left the noise, and hopefully the fumes, of the traffic behind. You are greeted by open land, banana and coconut trees, birdsong and traditional wooden houses giving this an almost rural feel. On your right you can see tall coconut trees that have footholds cut into their trunks to allow access to the nuts.
Take the right turn at Inter Inn and you approach a small square where several roads converge and which is the centre of the community still. Amidst leafy surroundings there are several foodstalls and fresh fruit is usually available as well. Take the second left exit from the square, alongside the telephone box, and enter another lane with flowering shrubs overhanging the fence tops. Just on your right is a small spirit house or “saan pra prom”(ศาลพระพรหม). It is supported on a single column representing Mount Meru, the sacred mountain of Hindu mythology and contains “Pra Chai Mongkol” (พระชัยมงคล), an angel-like figure, holding a sword in one hand and a bag of money in the other. Walking along this lane you will see the old wooden monks dormitories of Wat Pun Tong (วั"พันตอง) to your right.
You soon arrive at another square leading, to your right, to Loy Kroh Road. Directly in front of you is a small metal gate leading to Wat Loy Kroh (วั"ลอยเคราะห์) to which we will return shortly. Walk into the square where there are more snack stalls and usually a gentleman plying his trade with an old foot treadle operated Singer sewing machine. On your right is an entrance to Wat Pun Tong and its shady courtyard that provides welcome relief on a hot day.
Originally named Wat Pra Ngaam (วั"พระงาม), it was built during the reign of the dynasty descended from King Mengrai, abandoned as a result of Burmese invasion and brought back to life with the arrival of the Baan Hom people. It is thought that the name Pun Tong may be a corruption of the term ‘Thong Pun Chang’; the weight of the Buddha image that was brought with them from Chiang Saen. In the courtyard notice the image of Pra Mae Toranee (พระแม่ธร"ี), the lady with what looks like a pipe spouting out of the top of her head. She is actually the earth goddess or Mother Earth and she is wringing water from her hair.
Returning to the square you can enter Wat Loy Kroh through the small gate (if this is locked the main entrance is just around the corner on Loy Kroh Road). This temple was previously known as Wat Oikoh, Hoikoh, then Roikoh and was built in 1457 during the reign of King Guena, the 6th monarch of the Mengrai dynasty. After the Burmese arrived this temple was also abandoned until the Baan Hom people rebuilt it and renamed it Wat Loy Kroh, adapting the name from a Chiang Saen temple they had left. For the last few years this temple has been undergoing extensive restoration and it is still possible to see craftsmen at work here.
Return to the small square and turn to your right and after 40 meters take a right again. As you reach the small metalwork shop you will find a row of fighting cocks beneath bamboo baskets awaiting their weekend contests. Turn left here and again find traditional wooden housing and gardens. Continue straight over the small crossroads and towards Gampangdin Road. At the junction with the main road are a number of snackstalls selling Esarn favorites with the omnipresent sticky rice. Before reaching Gampangdin there is a small gate to your right that leads into the courtyard of Wat Chang Khong (วั"ช่างฆ้อง). The Baan Chang Khong peoples were brought to Chiangmai from Chiang Saen at the same time as the Baan Hom and were once renowned for their production of bronze gongs after which this temple is named.
[At the crossroads of Gampangdin and Loy Kroh Roads and in the gardens of the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel is a chedi that once belonged to the early temple on this site. Originally named Wat Sri Poon Dto it was built in 1357, rebuilt by the Baan Chang Khong people and later renovated in 1848 in the time of King Mahatra Prathet. This was also known as Wat Chang Khong]. Enter the temple through the small gate and you will see to your right a bell tower and to your left the large dormitories that were used frequently by visitors to the Royal Flora Ratchapreuk 2006 garden exhibition when accommodation in Chiangmai was at a premium. Turn to your right to circle behind the wiharn and you will find a ‘Happy’ Chinese style Buddha alongside a figure of Quan Yin (เจ้าแม่กวนอิม), the Goddess of Mercy or Bodhisattva of Compassion. The wiharn itself has little to recommend it but at least check out the unusual Buddha to the left outside the doors, the interior wooden structure of the roof and the gruesome mural on the left just inside the doors. The temple has a loudspeaker system connected to posts along Gampangdin Road and every morning at 07:30 broadcasts some Buddhist messages. Strangely this used to be introduced by the opening guitar riff from Deep Purple’s rock anthem “Smoke On The Water” !
Leave the temple through the same gateway and take a left then right at the small crossroads. This road narrows to little more than an alley before reaching another junction. Turn right and just before reaching Fang House take a left into a small alley. Follow this alley for about 30 meters then turn right at the junction into another lane lined with trees and flowering shrubs. You are now returning towards Tha Pae Road with the rear of Wat Boopparam (วั"บุพผาราม) on your right. Unfortunately there does not appear to be a side entrance to the temple so we have to rejoin the traffic and fumes of the main road for a short time. Turn right upon reaching Tha Pae Road and then enter Wat Bupparam through the small gate about 25 meters along. Otherwise known as Wat Meng it was built in 1495 during the reign of King Pra Muang Gaew on the site of the palace of his grandfather, King Tilokgaraj (ติโลกราช). In 1819 King Thammalungga (ธรรมลังกา) had the small wiharn built with King Gawilores (กาวิโลเรส) responsible for the larger one. Directly in front of you upon entry is a small, attractive, wooden viharn containing a Lanna style brick Buddha known as Pra Buddha Chai Larp Prasittichoke (พระพุทธไชยลาภ ประสิทธิโชค). To the rear of this building is a large chedi and beyond that the monks quarters with a talkative mynah bird. Walking towards the main courtyard look to your right to see a small walled enclosure containing a well and observe the sign ‘Entry Prohibited to Women’. The water from this well is still used in the murathaphisek ceremony when a new King receives a ritual bathing as part of his accession. The new structure that dominates is Haw Montientham (หอม"เ'ียรธรรม) and has two stories. Climb the stairs to admire the carvings on the doors and window shutters that depict events from Lord Buddha’s most recent and previous incarnations. Inside are several Buddha images including Pra Buddha Naressagchai Pairipinas (พระพุทธนเรศร์สักชัยไพรีพินาศ), reportedly the worlds largest carved teak Buddha, made for King Naresuan nearly 400 years ago. Some time ago this image had become blackened and was showing signs of its age. An Abbott decided it would look better if given a coat of paint and it is now a faded, off-white. Make what you will of the collection of carved animals that adorn the garden surrounding this building. More recently, the library was added in 1996 as an act of merit to King Bhumibol Adulyadej upon reaching his 60th year as King of Thailand.
Returning to Tha Phae Road and turning left will take you, after several hundred yards, back to Tha Pae Gate.
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