Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Vehicles in Thai

A new chapter of a book on "Thai Lingo" I've been working on for a few years:

Lesson 20: Vehicles Cars are roat yohn (rot yon or roht yawn); on the news, motorcycles are rot jakayan yon (jakayan are bicycles). Otherwise they’re roht-kreuang or rot motor-sai. Pick-ups can be that (roht pick-up) or roht ka-bak.
One particularly Thai vehicle is the rowt ee-taan, flat-bed vehicles with the length of the steering column (kaen phuang ma-lai; the steering wheel itself, just phuang ma-lai) usually fully visible, often no roof, maybe a few boards for sides, and usually cluttered with old junk. Farm vehicles, they’re quite slow, not driven on busy roads, and typically have no license plate (tambian rot, which electric bikes, jakayan fai fai, don’t need either). Not so long ago farmers used quai lek (metal buffalos, which one walks behind) to plow fields; now they use roht tai na tractors.
A roht back-hoe is also called a roht makro, but I’ve yet to discover why. A front-end loader is a roht-tak or rot krat-din, a wrecker a rowt-laak, and a crane, roht crane. 10 wheelers are roht ban-tuk or rowt sip-loh. When two trailers are connected and pulled by one cab, that’s a rot-pheuang.
The trunk of a car is tii sai khong tai roht, usually simplified to tai roht. From British English, it can also be the boot (but on my car at least, a boot is also something at the inside of the two front-axle halves). Turn signals are sanyan fai, brakes, kreuang ham law or just brake, brake shoes, rong-tao break or pah-brake. Radiator, moh-nam. Spare parts, khreuang alai or just alai (low tone), as in yang alai, spare tire. Spark plugs are hua-tian (candle heads). The horn to honk, tray (alternately shown as trae). Accelerator, ti raeng nam-man or just kan-raeng.
The seat of a motorcycle is boh-nang. Inner-tubes, yang-nai, while the outer tire, yang nok. The classifier for tires is sai. To increase tire air pressure, term lom.
Sai-fai-phuang are jump cables.
Dern mai ree-up (or riap) means it’s not running smoothly.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Borapet

Clearing a path for a driveway to a section of my property I intend to sell off, I found borapet vines wrapped around a dead bamboo and extending underneath the ground-cover of dead bamboo leaves. I smashed and boiled some, drank the bitter infusion a couple times, and enjoyed a sense of strength and energy. Then worked too hard and afterwards became extremely tired… My wife had said not to use too much of it as it would make me 'mao' (drunk)
The bitterness can be ameliorated by adding licorice, honey and green tea.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Persian influence in the founding of Ayudhaya?

About 3000 years ago, a mountain people from the Badakshan area of Central Asia (northeastern Afghanistan and southeastern Tajikistan), an important trading center through which the “Silk Road” passed, became tempted by thoughts of wealth in lowlands to their west, which they were becoming strong enough to consider appropriating. These people of Kamboja, or Kambujiya, had strong belief in hierarchy, divine will and the right of might. To them, to be able to take was a mandate to do so, within the natural, moral compass and order of things. How could it be else-wise?
In the 9th century BCE they took Persis (now Fars Province of Iran, where Shiraz is), then Anshan (in the Zagros mountains of southwestern Iran), a quite ancient civilization, and soon the whole Iranian plateau.
The empire at around 500 BCE stretched from the Indus Valley in the east to Thrace and Macedonia; it eventually controlled Egypt and encompassed approximately 8 million square kilometers; in 480 BCE it is estimated to have had 50 million people. At its greatest extent, it had absorbed the modern territories of Iraq, Syria, Armenia, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, most of Turkey, parts of Libya, Georgia and Azerbaijan, much of the Black Sea coastal regions and extensive parts of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Oman. They may well have been the root of the Ksyatriya caste, India’s ruling and military elite who were in charge of protecting society by fighting in wartime and governing in peacetime, and Gautama Buddha was most likely one of them (see the work of Ranajit Pal, who faces much disparagement but seems to me spot on, at least about some things).
Some of these Persian Ksyatriyas created the Srivijaya maritime empire, a splinter group from which met other Kambojas who had come overland (eventually following the path of the Mekong) to the Tonle Sap in what was then the kingdom of Chenla (Zhenla) and what is now Cambodia. These two groups, united by racial background and world-view, would have had trouble communicating verbally after a millennia and a half of differing influences on their language, but they saw the locals in quite the same way. Together they enslaved the local aboriginals, built the extensive Angkor Wat complexes, became known as the Khom and eventually formed the core of Siamese royalty and what became Thailand. As less than 1% has great difficulty holding in slavery over 99%, when drought and the Black Plague hit about 1300 CE, the Angkor Empire started to crumble, its edifices, by the time of the rise of Ayudhaya, left as a bad memory to become over-run by jungle, and the Khom were almost forgotten. Jit Phoumisak, called by some the only Thai intellectual, wrote about this, and seems as a result to have been executed. David K. Wyatt of Cornell University, the foremost historian on Thailand, might well have wanted to write on it, too, but wanted even more to be able to return to Thailand for visits, and so did not, although some of his later writings show interest in the surrounding controversies.
Srivijaya, like the Dutch and British East India Companies, merely expropriated ports, with “Factory” warehouses, and didn't attempt administration of colonies (Ligor, now Nakorn Sri Thammarat, Thailand, a possible exception), but the Khom rulers of the Khmer (pronounced “kha-may", the first syllable just like the Thai word for slave) raised rule to an art form, beguiling a gullible public with magical incantations and other bewitchery for half a millennium.

This is fascinating: in his “A history of Cambodia” David Chandler says, “In the 17th century, according to Dutch sources, foreign traders were required to love in specific areas of the new capitol, Udong, reserved for them and to deal with the Cambodian government only through appointed representatives, or shabandar.”
Wikipedia says, “S̲h̲āhbandar (Persian: شه‌بندر‎‎, lit. “harbourmaster”), was an official of the ports in Safavid Persia and one also known on other shores of the Indian Ocean. The Shahbandar (Port Master) was in charge of the traders and the collection of taxes. The office of shahbandar first appeared in Persia, and from there spread throughout the Indian Ocean basin.” Chandler doesn’t mention Persians though.
Yup, Persian influence in SE Asia goes WAY back. As Dr. Ranajit Pal put it, “evidence has revealed the presence of Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became Buddha, as far west as Persia. Family seals and records found at Persepolis, the ancient capital of the fourth Persian Emperor, Darius the Great, have been identified and associated with the names of Siddhartha Gautama and his father, Suddhodana Gautama. … Even the Indus Culture (India) is a colony of the Sumerian Empire, ...”
I was researching to write about Vasco de Gama for one of my novels, and ended up parroting others who had him meeting (and battling with) Arab traders in the Arabian Sea area, as if Persians would not have come down from the Persian Gulf… I’ve corrected that now. Clearly, Persians did travel and interact to the east and south of their home area, and why not? I’ve yet to have solid evidence for my speculations about their possible influence on Angkor, yet, though.
Seems likely to me that well before Persians became bureaucrats for Cambodian and Thai kings, they traded through a large coastal area extending until Chinese influence and control became too strong to deal with. Over centuries, they became knowledgeable in methods of control, lost interest in colonization or active political control in preference to manipulations through trade (for the most part), doing what Portuguese, Dutch and British later did with their “East India” companies. A break-away group forged Angkor, though, and kept an empire until Han population explosion and conquest of Han people by Mongols changed the socio-political situation enough that an alliance with T’ai peoples, emigrating for safety’s sake from their Southern Chinese homelands, seemed an appropriate recourse. Pressures from Vietnamese peoples may have contributed.
Anyway, mangroves clogging the northern shores of the Gulf of Siam were reduced in extent sufficiently that a new port city on the ChaoPraya River could be built, and a descendant of Shan/Lanna royalty invited to come rule. The rulers of Angkor and their hangers-on, Chinese merchants from Kwantung and others formed a new elite for this new city, which they called Ayudhaya, after a mythological city from the Ramayana tale. Eventually integration of their descendants with locals created the distinction from Malays that has become much more noticeable over the last century.
Cambodia was left with neither a strong elite nor much of a trading community (except for Vietnamese who took control of the ports that had exported their forest products), lost population and area and became a kind of satellite state controlled by Siamese and Vietnamese rivals.
This explains more to me than any other scenario I have encountered, and leaves fewer holes, less confusion, and so, utilizing Occam’s Razor, I accept it without the kind of proofs Western academicians prefer.

But I do have this: Tibet and Altai are high-altitude places a series of conquerors descended from. Tajikistan might be another. People from there, or other mountains nearby, conquered Persia and almost Ancient Greece. Their Achaemenid Empire was huge but historians have underestimated it, I think. They didn’t only go West, but also East, along the Old Silk Road and to the headwaters of the Mekong, down that river and finally to Cambodia, the name of which comes from them. Marco Polo’s ludicrous account of descending steadily downhill for three months, into what is now Myanmar, may well be a reflection of this, taken from stories Turk traders heard from Tajiks. After Cambyses II, (A Tajik descendant, I am suggesting), son of Cyrus the Great, uncle of Xerxes died in a Libyan sandstorm (or something close enough), some of his people turned back and tried India instead, forming the Kshatriyan caste of India and then the Srivijayan maritime empire based in Ligor and Java. One of their explorers, finding descendants of Tajik traders near Tonle Sap, decided to go for real empire instead of just trading, and with the help of a “5th column” of distant relatives, was able to found the Angkor Empire. In 1431, secrets of kingship gleaned over two millennium were used to found Ayudhaya, a trading partner for Southern Chinese loathe to remain subjects of Beijing (or Xanadu, X’ian, of Mongols, Ming or Qing). To accomplish this, when they were overthrown by a successful slave revolt, they allied themselves with T’ai princes pushed south not only by Mongol conquests but by Han Chinese population expansion. Later, others from Persia formed the backbone of Thailand’s Chakri Dynasty’s bureaucracy… Mountain people who ate fresh meat and forest products tended to be much hardier than lowland grain-eating agriculturists, and sometimes found opportunity to enrich themselves through their strength and simultaneously gain revenge on the “civilized” folk who despised them. To maintain supremacy, they found elaborate, formal high-church-like ceremony endowed with purported accouterments of power and embellished with semblances of magic importantly helpful. The pageantry, as it often does, worked, but they had to continually work at it, becoming, in a way, increasingly slaves to their slaves. Thus the switch to “maritime empire,” which was often equally rewarding but less demanding. Ports in India, Indonesia and at Ligor became havens of luxury. But some, as happens, sociopathically aspired to God-hood. Wealth and power weren’t enough; adulation and sycophancy were desired also. And so, Babylon, Constantinople, Angkor, Xanadu (X’ian) and perhaps Ayudhaya, although in its case, the mountain people must have been at greater remove from their ancestral mountains. I suspect it was similar with the Aztecs. Incas, however, stayed in their mountains (and I know little of their pageantry, except that they had plenty). I suspect that secrets of mass-manipulation have been handed down. This theory might help explain mafia influence in some current governments… Capishe?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Lampang Medicinal Hospital herbs

Anyone know why Lampang Midicinal Plants Conservation Assembly products have disappeared from the shelves of ChiangRia healthfood shop shelves? Or have any opinions abuot this article? http://meaningfulretreats.vpweb.co.uk/Thai-Secret.html

Sunday, May 29, 2016

MahaTevi(s) of Lanna

The ancient Kingdom of Lanna had several woman who were crucial to its civilization’s development. Haripunjai (Lamphun) was said founded by holy men who asked the king of Lopburi to send them a ruler; his daughter JamaTewi went. Legend tells of her overcoming a great Lawa chieftain with female magic… and of twin sons, one which succeeded her, the other of which founded Lampang. Mon, Buddhist Haripunjai thrived independently for over four centuries after her (her dynasty lasted at least 2 – at the end of it, Haripunjai was attacking Lopburi!), then was taken into Mengrai’s new Lanna Empire.
The first MahaTewi I know of was MahaTewi Kaeo Phimpha of LanChang, LanSang or Lane Xang - Laos. Her title derives from Sanskrit mahadevi… This MahaTewi wielded much power from 1428 to 1438, just before Lanna’s “Golden Age”, but surely then, as now, Laos was no great power center. Laos was, though, an important part of a culture which extended through Lanna and the Shan States into Yunnan. This “Culture of the Dhamma Letters” was Buddhist, T’ai and in many ways the basis of present traditions in Laos, Thailand and the Shan States.
When Mengrai Dynasty Lanna began to crumble, with no reign ending peaceably for a quarter century, a LanSang ruler, King Potisarat, began to fantasize of becoming the ‘wheel-turning universal monarch whose righteousness and might make all the world turn around him.’ Unfortunately, at the same time, so did a King Burengnong from Toungoo (due west from ChiangRai, separated by Karen people and the mighty Salween River). After Mengrai’s direct line ended, half of the last independent rulers were women. One, MahaTevi Jiraprapa (sometimes said named PhraNang Yout KhamThip), was a full, absolute ruler from 1545- 46. Then Potisarat’s son ruled briefly until duty pulled him away and for 4 years, no central ruler commanded at all. Jiraprapa may have been returned to power by Burmese King Burengnong, or perhaps he put her sister, whom we have little reliable data about, on the Lanna throne. There’s a problem with the few records which remain, in that a person or place is known here as this, there as that, and in another place and time gets referred to in another way entirely! But, to understand, we must endure.
In July, 1545, Shan King FaYongHui of Mong Nai (Muang Nai, on the Salween, were Lanna’s last king was from) attacked ChiangMai. As he did, an earthquake destroyed nine revered reliquaries there, including a couple of the most important (finials at Wat Jedi Luang and Wat PraSing). For a month attackers poured dirt into the city moat and tried to cross it with bamboo bridges; but defenders burnt the attackers’ encampment, and the Shans withdrew. Then Jiraprapa, daughter of King Ket Jettarat (deposed, then brought back by ministers who soon assassinated him), was given rule. Perhaps envoys from Ayudhaya had rushed message of Ket’s murder home; anyway, it’s thought they supported the rise of Queen Maha Jiraprapa (a.k.a. MahaTewi), and likely also they who not only requested military assistance from Ayudhaya, but had Ket’s killers killed. Regardless, an army from Ayudhaya under King Chairaja (or Borommatraijak) came near; either Jiraprapa persuaded (bribed?) him to hold off, or, as the ChiangMai Chronicle says, “He was defeated and fled.” Anyway, armies and devotions were displayed, and the Ayudhayan army “proceeded back to Yotthiya”.
Her cousin, Phaya Ket’s 12-year-old nephew (some say he was 19) from LuangPrabang, Setthatirat (a.k.a. Uppayo), was invited to rule under Jiraprapha’s regency. The Laotian government holds that King Potisan (Phohthisat, married to Ket’s daughter, who’s also said to have had the same name, Yotkamtip), conquered Lanna; if he did, he certainly didn’t rule it (unless through his wife, which is not claimed). 100 years before, LanSang attacked Nan; 50 years later it briefly took much of Lanna, but the tattered bits of Lao history which remain seem to miss these events… Regardless, according to local chronicles, in May, 1546, Setthatirat came to ChiangSaen and ChiangRai, appointed local rulers and went to rule in ChiangMai. He stayed until August 1547 (well, for 2 years, say the Chronicles, and ‘til 1550, they say in Laos). According to the ChiangMai Chronicles, in June of 1546, Setthatirat, accepted as king, “went to reverence the Emerald Buddha at its pavilion” in Wat Jedi Luang, then on 17 July was coronated as Phra Ratcha-uppayo. Pra TonThip is named as his first royal queen (and there are 2 daughters mentioned, casting doubt on his being aged 12). Pra TonKham is named as the Queen’s younger sister.
Word came that Potisan was killed by accident during a wild elephant round-up, and that younger brothers (if he was 12, well, supporters of younger brothers) were fighting for power. This threatened to divide the country, so Setthatirat returned to LuangPrabang. In April 1551, he handed ChiangMai over to “the queen”, Phra Ton Thip. Not KhamThip (though her sister was Pra TonKham… ‘Tip’ – a popular nickname, meaning to kick or rise as a kite?). David Wyatt’s 1984 “Thailand, A Short History” (published over a decade before his Chronicles translation) refers to Thao MaeKu, who was deposed after less than a year. The similarity of that name to the name of the next and last King is confusing but interesting. Mae Ku – mother of a pair? Popular Thai historian Manich Jumsai says this was Princess Chiraprabha, “(sometimes known as Maha Devi)” who resisted, perhaps foisted off, ‘King Prajairaja’ of Ayudhaya – King P’rajai or Chairacha, who died almost soon after return to Ayudhaya.
It seems generally agreed MahaTewi Jiraprapa first convinced the king from Ayudhaya nothing was to be gained by violence, and, doubtless with tribute, persuaded him to return home. When Setthatirat abandoned Lanna, or in January, 1546, Chairacha or Borommatraijak (“King of the South”) came back, and Jiraprapa then led successful resistance. The leader of this resistance is not said to be Setthatirat’s wife. At any rate, “Many Southerners died, and they dispersed” – according to the ChiangMai Chronicles – “30,000 Southerners went away by water”, “10,000 infantry and 3000 war boats were taken”, and 4 elephants!

The Portuguese had captured Islamic Malacca in 1511, and sent gunnery instructors to assist in wars to the north, supplying arms and soldiers to both mighty King Burengnong (Bayinnaung, or Jao PoengPawa MinTaya of Pegu, an important city south form Toungoo - on the Sittaung River - between its mouth and Yangoon) and King Maha Chakrapat of Ayudhaya. King Chairacha (Phrajai) may also have had some of these instructors, when on expeditions against ChiangMai, but despite Portuguese mercenary help and the violent power-jockeying which had been dominating things within Lanna, he was completely routed by MahaTewi Jiraprapa.

Setthatirat took away the Phra Kaeo Morakot (Emerald Buddha), other important Buddha images, religious texts and treatises, and many monks and scholars, when he effectively abandoned Lanna. He attempted to consolidate Lanna and LanSang in 1558-9, then before heading off to secure things in the south, established a new capital at WiangChan (Vientiane), much farther from Burmese-held territory than LuangPrabang (with more of difficult, unpopulated Saiaburi (Sayabuli or Xaignabouri) to cross. Or, as others hold, Potisarat chose WiangChan as a better capital “within the expanding Lao world” and for better communication with Vietnam, Champa, Cambodia and Ayudhaya.
Lanna endured anarchy and civil war, with nobles fighting on elephants in the middle of ChiangMai City. Petty officials and rulers of principalities proved more interested in their changing relative power than in the threat from Burma (as seems the case today), until Mekut of MongNai (a Shan State where rebellious descendants of Mengrai were sometimes sent to rule) was made king in 1552. In 1555, Mekut’s brothers attempted to seize Lanna’s Mekong region, and gained ChiangRai and ChiangSaen… so Mekhut “was not at first inclined to listen to his brothers’ cry for help” when Burengnong, who’d become king in 1551, took Ava in 1555, then Hsenwi, then KengTung… Mekhut surrendered to Burengnong, who accepted him as a vassal, but soon revolted against his new obligations. Setthatirat, returning with help from the governors of Lampang, Prae and Nan, took ChiangMai and begged pardon before the Sangha (Buddhist clergy), handing “all the country of ChiangMai over to the Queen” (according to the Chronicles). He almost took ChiangSaen, but Burengnong forced him back to LuangPrabang, where Mekut had taken refuge (leaving Lady Wisutthathewi – his consort, says history professor at ChiangMai University Sarassawadee Ongsakul, to rule in his place). Burengnong seized Mekut (the Chronicles say this was in ChiangMai) but Setthatirat escaped to pursue guerrilla warfare until Burengnong ran out of provisions. For a year Setthatirat launched harrying sallies against Burmese patrols and supply lines, until they withdrew in mid-1565. Perhaps before going back to Burma Burengnong married Princess Jiraprapa, now in her 40s (at least). The woman who ruled Lanna from 1564 until her death in 1578 is called Wisutthitewi (again there is name confusion: Mekut’s full name was Mekutawisutthiwong). This PhraNang Visuti (Wisutatewi, a.k.a. MahaTewi) whom Burengnong replaced Phra Mekut with, may have been a different, younger daughter of Phaya Ket; and maybe Potisan’s wife was Ket’s sister…
Anyway, Mekut died in exile at Pegu or Ava, and became known as one of Burma’s famous “37 Nat” spirits, YunBayin. The Mengrai line is said to end there, but the last person descended from Mengrai to rule might have been Thado Gyaw, 4th Lanna ruler (descended from Burengnong/MinTaya) through MahaTwei Jiraprapa). Mon rebels, aided by Shan and Siamese prisoners resettled to the area, burned Pegu after Burengnong hurried off to deal with an Arakanese invasion; he sacked Ayudhaya in 1569, but didn’t absorb it into empire, and died (1581) without subduing LanSang. He sent another expedition, which again briefly occupied Vienchan, but Setthirat directed more guerrilla warfare against them and has remained a national hero since, despite dying (well, disappearing) a year later.
In 1595 the kings of LanSang and Nan took ChiangSaen; amazingly, Burengnong’s son on the Lanna throne asked King Naresuan of Ayudhaya for help; this resulted in a Lao noble acting as Siamese commissioner there. Then, for about the length of time they’d been an independent power, ChiangMai and ChiangRai were vassal states required to pay annual tribute of gold and silver trees, and manpower as necessary in times of war – usually to Burma, occasionally to Siam. MahaTewi’s descendants may have continued in local rule. After Setthatirat disappeared mysteriously while campaigning in the south, LanSang suffered a 70 years of wars of succession and reduction to a Burmese vassal state, until King Suriyavongsa (Suriwong?) restored independence.

It all goes to demonstrate – national borders, royal lines, culture and economics are hardly hard and fast realities; national historians often portray things differently from their neighbors, and any set of important records needs corroboration, even if from a very different way of looking at things! Many records were destroyed, but Thailand’s MahaTewi remains respected; really though, who was she? Is she little more than an amalgamation?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Jakajan Oh-oh

Sometimes in the hot season cicadas (in Thai, jakajan จักจัน) come out to find water. This year there isn’t much water (people line up at springs to fill containers now, up in the border mountains; we're likely to get severe storms with bad hail when rains finally come, and I bet there'll be flooding in Bangkok again) and the catching is quite easy.

Bamboo poles are set up on the dry sides of river beds, and the insects alight on them. Thinner poles with an end coated about a foot long with sticky stuff from what I thought was a coffee tree (but isn't) are poked at the cicadas, which often get stuck. An expert can catch several at once. Then you grab them off and put them in a bag to take home, while they complain vociferously. Before cooking in boiling water with a bit of oil, de-wing. Bon apetit! They taste like insects, but the nutritional value is not to be belittled - sure beats a mono-culture, GMO diet, in what you get from them.


Lest anyone see poor-folk food here, these locusts come out only every 5 years, and are a special treat. So there!




The gluey sap comes from this tree, from the trunk or from the fruit.

Cicadas spend most of their lives as underground nymphs, emerging only after years. There are cicadas in Thailand every year though; perhaps there are slight differences different years. Although it is claimed that females lay their eggs in trees, my children dig them from the ground every year,

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Activities for ChiangRai visitors

Activities for ChiangRai visitors:

There was a time, decades ago, when the thing to do was trek to hill-tribe villages, take photos and smoke opium. Now, for good reason, that’s not done so much. The villages aren’t remote, some frown on strangers stealing their image, the government is hardly as indulgent about opium, and marching into people’s homes for the curiosity value of it is sometimes even recognized for the rudely-mannered arrogance it is. You can still go to human zoos to see "long-neck” people, but that, at least, is generally recognized for what it is (if not beforehand, then maybe subsequently).
But there’s lots to do that isn’t intrusive:
On Sundays, the Thanon Khon Muan weekly street fair on SanKhongLuang Road fills a wide area with goods-for-sale, small stages with plastic chairs for audiences provide interesting entertainment, there’s an area for participatory dancing, food, food and food, and the ever-popular people-watching.
Mondays in BanDu a few kilometers up Hwy 1 from the bridge over the Kok, opposite the highway from Gate #1 to Rajapat Univ, is a “Walking Street” with mostly clothes for sale but also food and drink, packed with Rajapat students enjoying themselves.
Tuesdays, also in BanDu, in an open area on the highway just south of there, right north of Wat BanDu, is a Talat Nat open market featuring low prices and often a blow-up fun house for kids, plus a safely-enclosed trampoline.
Every night in the middle of town the “Night Bazaar” provides lavish entertainment on several large stages, beer, food, hill-tribe vendors and a remarkable array of delights.
Saturdays there’s the Thanon Tanalai (Tanalai Road) Walking Street, so popular that walking can be difficult. Kids do stunts on bikes and boards, and again, there’s participatory dancing.
Every night TokTaeng Restaurant towards the south end of town has local ethnic cuisine and local music by musicians in traditional local garb, and a quick walk further south, towards the KhunGon intersection that marks the end of town, also on the west side of Pahonyothin Road (the main thoroughfare) is ToopYaDong herbal-whiskey stand with interspersed comedy ad local music (all in local lingo only, and with some very friendly katoey lady-boys).
East of Hwy 1 on the south side of the Kok River a row of good restaurants provide sea-food, local fish, Chinese food, stage shows and riverside ambience.
“Pattaya Noi” (ChiangRai Beach) is a great place to relax of an evening, with a long row of open-sided pavilions to choose from for drinking and enjoying bar-b-q chicken and fish.
And then there’s JetYod Road, with tourist-oriented bars, massage shops and restaurants with Western food. Oh, and coffee-shops too (but they’re everywhere, anymore!).

Days, there’s the Elephant Camp on the Kok west of town, several hot-springs, waterfalls, museums, and the Central (Main) Market, at the northeast corner of which hill-tribe folk in tribal attire sell vegetables daily.
Day trips to outlying areas can work out, but often overnight is better, especially if you want to see the sunrise from PuChiFah overlook on the Mekong, or the birds at ChiangSaen Reservoir. To see Santikiri/DoiMaeSalong, ThoedThai/BanHinTaek, DoiTung and the Amphoe MaeFahLuang borderlands requires a couple days (at least), and good accommodations are generally available (except during the Chinese NewYear period).
Then there are the many National Parks, reservoirs, fishing parks, the Ostrich farm, artists to find out about, arboretums, caves, temples, interesting businesses (Lanna Souvenir, Orn’s Used Books, DoiDinDaeng Pottery), NGOs (AFECT, Mirror Art Group), and long-tail boat rides on the Kok River.
This list is hardly complete or comprehensive, but perhaps some things should be left to discover on one’s own. There are guides, bicycles, motorcycles and cars to hire, and a few Tourist Authority offices, if you can find them!