Opening soon will be an important part of the once-imagined ring road around Chiang Rai. From Highway 1233 (the road from SriSimon to WiangChai), perhaps a kilometer east of the little bridge, to Highway 1232 (Poh Khun Road) and the 5023 road to the new airport, will be an alternate route to our main “superhighway” (Route 1, the superhighway with stop lights). This will ease up some holiday traffic.
A new Rajapat University is being built at Chiang Khong. The bridge there to Laos should be finished before much longer, changing our tourist climate a bit. The advent of ever-popular “I’m going to Laos” backpacker traffic will result in fewer stay-overs in our usually quiet province. Khun Maleewan’s Ban Rim Taling is purportedly up for sale already, although there are others much more optimistic. For a long time now, travelers to Laos have often stayed overnight in Chiang Khong; now that will hardly be necessary. Of course, the travelers will lose opportunity to brag, “I’m going to Laos”!
The train from Den Chai in Prae Province (just north of Uttaradit) is projected to come here in 5 years or so, and traffic on the new road through Laos to China to bring in lots of business. That remains to be seen, but many investors clearly believe it, as evidenced by our local housing boom. We’ve no now industry going in, nor much reason to expect much in the way of increased income from tourism or agriculture, although those things, too, could happen.
Or, we could end up with more empty housing – like the many shop-houses from 1997 which never got used, or the housing estates south of the 2nd MaeSai bridge. With another Rajapat opening, one must wonder how well all the new housing near Ban Du’s Rajapat will do… seems to me a lot of young folk would much rather have nice cars, jewelry, nights on the town and lots of phone conversations than a step up in housing. But perhaps a lot of occupancy will come about through a certain kind of gift-giving… in the way of gift-giving with utility for the gift-giver (our short-time hotels don’t appear to have been experiencing any sort of boom).
It could be that some of this investment is in response to fears of Bangkok sinking. Another factor might well be the declining quality of ChiangMai as a destination for hospitality-seekers. But the main things seem to be expectations that the railroad and increased vehicular traffic to and from Yunnan will pick things up here substantially. I suspect that those believing that haven’t really done their homework; it seems entrepneurs agree with me, judging by our restaurants and pubs. But I’m glad there will be an alternate route to our main throughway soon – for a short distance within our capitol-city district, anyway. Will new and better maps, including that route, come about also? One can only hope. Somehow I expect that my paved but unnamed soi, on no maps now, will remain that way.