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Chang Khlarn Area: Night Bazaar in the day time in 1999
Boonserm Satrabhaya
Chang Khlarn Area; Night Bazaar

Chang Khlarn and Charoenprathet areas are situated on the west side of Ping river, opposite Tha Pae and Kard Luang areas. It is believed that originally these areas were the same area as documented in the legends of native Chiang Mai that “this area is in the middle of Chang Khlarn” which is in accordance to what people in this area said that “in the past, all Indian descendants’ families had cattle. In the morning, they let their cattle out to have grass from Chang Khlarn area to the airport area which was still the grass field.”

More people began to move into this area during the time of boat and train trading. There is evidence that before there were trains, the boat pier at Chai Mongkol temple was an important port. People have stated that the long-tailed boats usually came to this temple to ask for blessings before going to Bangkok to do business as they thought that this would bring luck, prosperity and would allow them to return safely. This is also reflected in the meaning of the name of the temple.

With the advent of the railway and the completion of construction of the bridge over Ping River, more and more people moved in to live and start businesses along the river bank and Chang Khlarn area. The fact that there were three big schools: Mont Fort College, Regina Coeli, and Sacred Heart Convent in the area shows the density of the communities. Additionally, this area was also the location for important offices like British Consulate which was situated in the north of Chai Mongkol temple, while the head office of the Forest Department was situated in the south of Chai Mongkol temple. This office was the first of its kind in Thailand.

Communities which settled in this area comprised of diverse ethnic groups like the natives, Barn Hor community, Indian community and western community.

Barn Hor community was situated between Charoenprathet and Chang Khlarn roads in front of the night bazaar. Hor means the Chinese who immigrated from Yunnan. This group had ties with different cities in Lanna since the reign of Mang Rai and continued to Rattanakosin. Some came to do trading, some settled in the area, while some worked in the royal palace. The important immigration of this group occurred during the time of the Chinese communist revolution, when the Chinese communist party came to power. This was the time that civilians and Chinese soldiers in Yunnan region fought against the communist party and were heavily wiped out which caused the Chinese Hor to move to different areas including the northern part of Thailand. The Chinese Hor were Muslim and usually settled their community around the mosque which was the center of belief and ritual activities. Chinese Hor were pious in their religious beliefs. At present, this area is the location of the big mosque called Haedayadul-islam Mosque (Barn Hor) or shortly called Musyid Islam. Barn Hor has a community which is surrounded by people making a living by having their own businesses like restaurants, and shops which have the unique identity of Islam community.

Indian community – originally this community was called Kulwa. The majority of this group was from Pakistan which was called “Khak Pa-tan”. However, some came from India by passing through Burma and settled in different cities in Lanna areas. In Chiang Mai, they settled on Chang Khlarn road which connected with Charoenprathet road. Their main occupation was husbandry business. It is said that in the past, the Kulwa descendents slaughtered cattle on their own property and sold the meat at different markets such as Pra-tu Chiang Mai market, Ton Lam Yai market, and San Pa Koi market. One of the reasons that this group made a living by slaughtering cattle was that Buddhists would not kill animals as it is considered a sin to kill. Another related occupation was selling milk. The majority of their customers was from the Indian community, who made a living by selling fabrics in Warorot market.

At present, the slaughter of cows is decreasing. However, there are still Muslim restaurants which serve beef and are quite well-known among old people in Chiang Mai.

Farang community means westerners whom the local people called “Kula-khao”. This community was pre-dominantly Roman Catholic (Chris-tan). They came to propagate their religion in 1932. Their center was at Sacred Heart Convent church. There were three schools which were in the same denomination – Sacred Heart Convent School, Mont Fort College, and Regina Coeli School. In addition to the pastors who lived in the area, there was the Farang community and their offices like the British Consulate, (originally located on Ping River, which is now The Chedi Hotel. The consulate was moved to Bamroongraj Road, Wat Gate Sub-district) the France Consulate and Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient which were established in 1975. If compared to the Farang community on the east side, this community was smaller. The majority of this group was pastors and teachers and some of them were Thais or natives (look at Mont Fort College topic).

Apart from the Indian and Farang communities on Charoenprathet road, there were the natives who settled around the Ping river bank close to Montfort College, Regina Coeli school, and Sacred Heart Convent school. Some people in this group practiced Roman Catholicism.

At present, this area has changed a great deal. There are a lot of big hotels and guesthouses as it is the area on the river bank. The first groups of hotels were Porn Ping Tower hotel and Phet Ngarm hotel. After that (2005-2007), more five-star hotels were built such as Shangri-la and The Chedi hotel. The latter was the location of the original British Consulate.

Anu Neunhard, Pol. Lt. Col.. (2000). Sapa Rueng Kao (Miscellaneous stories of
Chiang Mai in the past. (in Thai). Chiang Mai: Nopburi Printing.

--------------------------------. (2001). Sang Khom Mueang Chiang Mai
“Run Sam” (Chiang Mai society “generation 3”). (in Thai).
Chiang Mai: Nopburi Printing.

Plaiao Chananon. (1986). The roles of merchant capitalism in the rise and
expansion of capitalism in Northern Thailand, 1921-1980.
Master’s thesis in Economics, Chulalongkorn University

Sguan Chotsukrat. (1973). Tam Nan Puen Mueang Chiang Mai (The legend
of Chiang Ma). (in Thai). Bangkok: The Committee for Printing
History Documents, Office of Prime Minister.
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