Lampang, forgotten by time
Slowly the Special Express train from the busy and polluted Bangkok finally stopped in the so picturesque railway station of Lampang. After a night in the cold second-class air-conditioned sleeper I strolled on to the platform and I already felt the cool and fresh winter air from the north of Thailand. Walking in the train station it looks like times has passed here for the last two decades or so. Once outside I see myself in the real world of Lampang of today. A samlor was waiting for me to bring to me to my final destination in Lampang, The River Side Guesthouse. In a few minutes we did leave the modern Thai provincial city of Lampang behind us and entered the old center along the river Wang.
There it is, between some other old wooden houses, where Lorenzo and her husband created what I call a place of retreat and peaceful harmony. Something we do miss so much in the west. Together they made a wonderful place to live together with their little son and the loveliest three dogs I have ever seen. And they are inviting family and good friends to enjoy that same happiness together. Buildt in the typical northern style of original wooden old house, it is located along the Wang river. Lorenzo is waiting for me at the big wooden gate as one of the dogs wakes up from his afternoon nap. When the wooden gate closes behind me it's like I'm in a new hidden away world. Lorenzo guides me to my room through the little garden with a small fish pond. The soft sound from the water running into the small fountain makes a melodious music. My room is one of ten all different rooms, all with private bathroom, hot shower and a fan in the bedroom. All rooms are decorated with beautiful wooden furniture in typical Northern design and photos from the private collection of the owners.
After a refreshing shower and change of clothes I walk to the lobby room, which is actually an open veranda with view over the river. After checking-in I have a fresh musli with yogurt and fresh fruit and enjoy the quiet morning of The River Side Guesthouse.
Lampang itself is a small city divided by the Wang River. One side is what I call the modern Lampang with restaurants, pubs, banks, shops, disco, Internet shops, even a Big-C, and of course the big fresh market. The other side of the river is what I call the old Lampang with many small streets, old wooden houses, little market places, temples and schools. The Wang River itself is not spectacular because of the damming of the river there is not so much water in it anyway.
Lampang seems to be a place forgotten by most tourists but actually it has some nice attractions. The two most famous are the Elephant Conservation Center and the Wat Phrathat Lampang Luang. Both are a few kilometers outside the city, in different directions.
On the way to the Elephant Conservation Center you pass the famous Jungle Market. Not for the faint hearted, because here you will see that the northern Thai people eat really everything. I myself at that moment was not in a mood for the tourist tour and I just took a walk through town and in the evening I took a horse carriage ride with one of the famous horse drivers of Lampang. He dropped me off at a hidden away Karaoke bar where I did meet an old Thai friend of mine.
Together we drank a small bottle of Seang Som and enjoyed the food and music until late in the night or actually early in the morning. I walked back through the empty streets and fell asleep, to wake up in the afternoon for my "breakfast" in the little tropical garden.
Actually I had to leave Lampang in the morning to go to Chiang Rai, but as it was so late in the afternoon already, it was better to stay one more night and leave the next day. If Lampang would let me go ...
Well it did not let me go and in the years to come I would come back many times. And still it feels like time has passed Lampang, although there are now some more nice guesthouses and in the weekend there is now a night-market where the local people from the area & Thai tourists come for food and OTOP* products.
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From Wikipedia: "One Tambon One Product (OTOP) is a local entrepreneurship stimulus program designed by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawat during the 2001-2006 Thai Rak Thai government. The program aims to support the unique locally made and marketed products of each Thai tambon (subdistrict). Drawing its inspiration from Japan's successful One Village One Product (OVOP) program, Thailand's OTOP program encourages village communities to improve local product quality and marketing, selects one superior product from each tambon to receive formal branding as a "starred OTOP product", and provides a local and international stage for the promotion of these products. OTOP products cover a large array of local products, including handicrafts, cotton and silk garments, pottery, fashion accessories, household items, and foods. After a military junta overthrew the elected government of Thailand in 2006, the OTOP program was canceled and then revived and rebranded."
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Published on 10/12/10