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A Word in Your Ear, Part 2

Following last month's introduction to some Thai words which you are likely to hear during the course of your visit, we suggest the undermentioned list of Place Names may be of guidance as you look at our maps and explore our City of Chiangmai.

  • Chang Puek: On the northern side of the city moat is Pratu Chang Puek from which runs Chotana Road towards Rajabaht Teacher Training College and the Super Highway. "Chang" means "elephant" while "Puek" mean "white" and you will see the shrine to the white Elephant at you proceed along Chotana Road. Traditionally, a White Elephant is the property of the Monarch who would frequently farm them out to his nobles (especially if the noble was not in the Royal "good books"). The noble was obliged to care for, maintain and feed the elephant even 'though it was not of use to him as it was not allowed to work. Hence the term, in English, "White Elephant" means something you don't want but can't afford to throw away.
  • Chang Moi Road: The road from the eastern side of the moat to the River Ping. As mentioned, "Chang" means "elephant" plus the word "moi" which means "sleepy". So we have "Sleepy Elephant" Road as this used to be the path along which mahouts led their charges, after a hard days work, for a splash in the river.
  • Chao Dara Residence: This is now the United States Consulate in Chiangmai. Originally, it was the residence of Princess Dara Rasamee who was a royal consort of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) when, in 1915, she returned to live in Chiangmai. When no longer required by the Princess, the lovely property became home to the first Christian school (Dara Academy) founded here and, subsequently, the U.S. Consulate.
  • Doi Inthanon: "Doi" is the northern word for "mountain" and Doi Inthanon is the highest in Thailand. Originally named Doi Anka it was renamed in favor of Chao Inta Wichanont who was the father of King Kaew Nawarat and Princess Dara Rasamee. The namechange took place in 1939 after the Princess had her father's remains interred on the mountain.
  • Gawila Military Barracks: Named for Prince Gawila who was the general who reclaimed Chiangmai from the occupying Burmese armies. Prince Gawila was appointed by King Rama I to be Pra Chao Chiangmai, ruler of Chiangmai, in 1796. Six years later, in 1802, the Prince was further elevated to be virtually the King of Chiangmai (but giving allegiance to Bangkok). The Gawila dynasty ruled for 143 years and, today, their descendants take the name surname "Na Chiangmai" ("at Chiang Mai") e.g. Jao Kohkaew Na Chiangmai.
  • Iyara (Hotel): "Iyara" was part of the Royal name "Praya Sawek Iyara" which was given to a specific white elephant which was found during the reign of King Rama II. It was presented to King Rama II by the then King of Chiangmai, King Noi Dhamma Lanka (younger brother of King Gawila).
  • (Khum) Rinkaew: The proper name of the old residence to where Princess Dara finally retired is situated next to the Chiangmai Orchid Hotel. "Khum" is pronounced "Khoom" and, sadly, this old, stately residence has now fallen to commercial usage.
  • Kaew Nawarat Road: Kaew Nawarat was the last hereditary king of Chiangmai (appointed by King Rama VI in 1901) and this road is named for him. Since Kaew Nawarat's passing, successive Governors of the city have been appointed by the government in Bangkok.
  • Mengrai Bridge: Named in memory of the first King of the Lanna period, King Mengrai, who founded Chiangmai as his capital in 1296. His royal palace "Wiang Lek" was eventually replaced by another; a chedi was built on the site and, in turn, this has become the temple of Wat Chiang Mun.
  • Payap University: Stemming from the system which, in 1892, divided Siam into States (or "monthon"). There were 18 monthon of which Chiangmai was known as "Monthon Payap" "Northern State (Region)".
  • Poy Luang: This is a northern Thai term for a "Grand Celebration" and, from time to time, every village will have one. It will last, perhaps, for three days during which each village household will participate with offerings to the local temple and entertaining of guests with food, beverages, dancing and much merrymaking.
  • Suan Proong Gate: Named to honor the wife of King Saen Muang Ma who reigned in Chiangmai from 1387 until 1411. At the lady's request, a second gate had been constructed in the city's southern wall to give her easy access from her Suan Rae Palace to the city. The gate is now called Pratu Suan Proong as the palace site is now home to the Suan Proong Psychiatric Hospital.
  • Suriwongse: Name from the son of King Gawila, King Dawiroros Suriyawongse, who ascended the Northern Throne in 1861 after his appointment by King Rama IV. His former palace is now the Municipal Court building (opposite the Three Kings Monument) on Prapokklao Road.
  • Wat Phra Thart Doi Suthep: The magnificent temple, symbol of Chiangmai, which sits atop Doi Suthep to the west of the city. "Wat" means "temple/monastery" while "Phra" is a respectful title for royalty or revered monks. "Doi", as you know, means "mountain" and "Suthep" was the name of a reclusive ascetic who followed his meditation on the mountain slopes.
  • Waroros Market: Also known as "Kad Luang" (Big Market) on the banks of the River Ping is named for the eighth ruler of Chiangmai Prince Intawaroros Surijawongse. This is the largest public market in Chiangmai selling flowers, fruit, fresh meat, fish and, in the 3 storeyed covered section, everything from gold to a huge selection of goods and garments. Well worth looking around even if its just to sightsee.

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