The Free Thai / Seri Thai Museum - Phrae

DavidFL

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Phrae Attractions continued....

Wat Luang

Wat Luang is the oldest temple in Phrae, built in 829, by King Luang Phon.

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The current buildings are not original. The earliest existing structure is the octagonal chedi, known as the Phra That Luang Chai Chang Kham 'The Great Relic Chedi Supported By Elephants', was last rebuilt in 1336 on top of an earlier form.

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The Chedi enshrines a Holy Relic brought over from Myanmar.

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A museum houses various antiquities that include 500-year-old Buddha statues.

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The viharn-ubosot, dates from 1872, is the largest hall on the grounds of the wat. It contains a Buddha image that is a bronze replica of the original gold statue plundered in 1902 during the Shan rebellion.

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DavidFL

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More Phrae attaractions

Wat Phra Youn

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and a reminder that you really need to photograph temples in the morning with the sun shining on the face of the temple. Otherwise in the afternoon you end up photographing the chedis & backs of the temples.

Narirat School

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The old walls of Phrae

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PHRAE ANCIENT CITY HISTORY
The ancient city of Phrae was probably built in the 11th century. It was a small city but once had close relationships with Sukhothai and Sri Sachanalai in the south, and became a dependent of Sukhothai twice in its history, during the reigns of King Ramkamhaeng and King Phaya Li Thai, early Kings of Sukhothai. In consequence, the architecture of Phrae was influenced by Sukhothai. In 1443 the city was annexed to the Lan Na Kingdom by King Tilokaraja, and much of the architecture was replaced in the style of Lan Na.

Phrae was built in the shape of a conch shell, and is 1,500 by 900 meters. It is situated on the eastern bank of the Yom River, and enclosed by a single city wall. Outside the city the wall is earthen, with bricks and cement added to the edges around the gates. Most of the wall and the gates are still in good condition.
PHRAE CITY WALL
The earthen ridges surrounded the city were called “Meka” (or clouds). These ridges are the city wall about 5 meters high, 10 meters wide, surrounded the city with the length of 1,400 meters and the width of 800 meters. There is a ditch next to the earthen ridges, called Nam (water). It is about 10 meters wide, surrounded the city wall in the northeast, east, and southeast. The other directions are closed to Kam river, serving as the natural ditch about 1,000 meters long. In the old days, there were 4 city gates, i.e. Chai Gate, Sri Chum Gate, Yung Mah or Horse Gate, and Mara Gate. The gates were big enough only for elephants and carts to pass through.
 

DavidFL

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Phrae Attractions continued

VONBURI HOUSE

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The house belonged to a former nobleman, built in 1897 by Lord Phrom (Luang Phongphibun) and Lady Sunanta Wongburi, a daughter of Lord Buri (Phraya Burirat), a forest concessionaire. The house is a two-storey wooden Thai-European style building with gingerbread carving designs. It was built by a Cantonese artisan with Thai assistants. It took three years to build and was connected with another house built during the time of Lady Buatha Mahayotpanya, the first wife of Lord Phiriyathepwong, the last Phrae ruler. It is located on a 1,000 m2 plot with 20 rooms.

Before the house was opened to the public, it received many visitors on a regular basis, and was published in magazines and was also a movie location. It was popularized nationwide when it appeared on the cover of a travel magazine in November 1992. The owner decided to open it to the public in October 1997.

The house displays the personal belongings and photographs of the previous owners, silverware, pottery, ancient weaponry, Chiang Saen and Sukhothai-style Buddha images, and rare official documents, e.g., a certificate of appointment from King Rama V, 49 copies of slave contracts, forest concession certificates and certificates of elephants and cows. Next to the house is a silverware factory, produced by local silversmiths. The products, together with other handicrafts, are also for sale.
The house received the Outstanding Conservation Award in 1993 by the Siam Architect Society under Royal Patronage.

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An absolute magnificent building, steeped in history & well worth checking out when in Phrae.
Don't miss it!
 

DavidFL

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Phrae attractions continued

WAT PHRA NON

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Wat Phra Non, the Monastery of the Reclining Buddha, is considered to be a classic example of Phrae religious architecture.
Most notable is the structure housing the reclining Buddha. Instead of windows, the sides of the structure are illuminated by long, narrow openings called Chong Lom (wind gaps), surmounted by cross-shaped openings. This design permits ample illumination while minimizing the amount of direct sunlight entering the structure during the hot summer months.

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guichard

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Jul 11, 2007
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Hello David,
In addition to your interesting post,1km north of the Paradorn hotel,on the right hand side,one of the best noodle shops of the North:kwae tiao boran.On week-ends,you see a lot of BMW and Mercedes with BKK plates but the price is still under 50B!
Another 2 kms,the road goes through Ban Thung Hong,the famous village where the original maw hawm,blue indigo shirts are dyed and sawn. The street is lined with a lot of shops offering now a full collection of garments ,for ladies and men,made with this material.
Earlier this year,I had to pospone my meeting with Khun Puchong.I'll see him this fall when I'm back in LOS.
And by the way,Is the bridge at Chiengkhong open at last?
Cheers, Lung jacques.
 

DavidFL

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guichard;293418 wrote: Hello David,
In addition to your interesting post,1km north of the Paradorn hotel,on the right hand side,one of the best noodle shops of the North:kwae tiao boran.On week-ends,you see a lot of BMW and Mercedes with BKK plates but the price is still under 50B!
Another 2 kms,the road goes through Ban Thung Hong,the famous village where the original maw hawm,blue indigo shirts are dyed and sawn. The street is lined with a lot of shops offering now a full collection of garments ,for ladies and men,made with this material.
Earlier this year,I had to pospone my meeting with Khun Puchong.I'll see him this fall when I'm back in LOS.
And by the way,Is the bridge at Chiengkhong open at last?
Cheers, Lung jacques.
Thanks for the tips Lung, I hope to check them out.
Re the bridge in CK, no it is not open yet. The trucks will be allowed to use it first, then later on it will be fully opened when all the facilities are ready & they can handle the traffic & people.
 

DavidFL

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Pottering round Phrae a bit more
A delightful town full of surprises
The Pung Tao Kong Shrine that serves as a symbol of the Chinese people’s settlement in Phrae
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The original shrine was in a small house, that also had a Chinese language school.

In 1962 the school moved out to what is now the Charoensilpa School & a new shrine was built, financed by donations.
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This lasted 47 years until 2007, by which time the shrine needed rebuilding yet again.
In 2009 the new shrine was opened.

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Night time the Phrae city centre roundabout
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DavidFL

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Wat Sra Baw Keo
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A Burmese – Shan style temple made of golden teak was originally built in 1876.
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At the time there were many Burmese people in Phrae working for the English East Asiatic Company that had the logging concession for the area.

The Buddhist Burmese people had trouble communicating with the Thai monks, so they had their own temple built & brought an abbot from Burma.

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The temple was reconstructed in 1909.

An interesting wat with a difference
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The other famous Burmese - Shan style wat in Phrae is Wat Chom Sawan, also built during the reign of King Rama 5

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After the Shan rebellion in 1902, the temple was left to decay but restored again & in 1990 the Fine Arts department registered the temple as a historical site with valuable artifacts.

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The precious items are
1. Buddhist inscriptions which were carved in Burmese characters on 16 sheets of ivory.
2. A Buddha image made of bamboo and covered with gold leaf.

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DavidFL

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Phrae the classic town is full of museums & people proud of their culture & history.
There is a very strong conservation movement to retain the old buildings, houses & history of Phrae, & not let it all be knocked down & concrete shop houses be erected.
The town definitely wants to retain its charm & character.

Another new beauty is the Ban Thep Museum
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With a private collection of century + antiquities
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Recently opened it is a work in progress, but already with an amazing collection of ancient items.
These include Chinese inlaid pearl, furniture, armour, gongs & Lanna bells, drums, porcelain & clocks ++

It's a highly impressive collection & probably the best you can see in the North.

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Very old bank notes
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Ancient coins & currencies
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Beautiful old Buddhas
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Old lanterns & porcelain
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Old police helmet & gun
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Ancient pipes
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Some furniture
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old cabinets & a display of 100 year old + cloth for dancing costumes
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An ancient betel nut set of utensils
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A massive carved tree trunk
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A 100 year + Chinese door, from Khampaeng Phet
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The proud owner upstairs in the storeroom with pieces yet to be displayed.
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A nice swinging seat made from one piece of timber.
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The entrance to the museum with massive teak wood doors
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There's almost too much - the collection is over powering.
So if you're at all interested in some culture & history, check out the Ban Thep Museum in Phrae.

GPS Waypoint: N18 08.780 E100 08.654
Rob Muang Street, right next to the prison.
 

DavidFL

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Phrae - attractions- the Forestry Dept Teak Museum

The Teak Museum or the Museum of Forest, the 1st Training Center (Phrae) is located at the 1st Training Center (Phrae) under the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. The museum consists of three buildings made from teak situated in the area of 6 Rais which were the estate of the East Asiatic Company from Denmark. The company was under a teak concession granted to operate in the area along the Yom River in the reign of King Rama V. These buildings were used as the office building and the residence for executives and officers of the company.

The Museum # 2 is the main exhibition building that is open.
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the museum has a collection of teak items
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plus a stack of old photos showing the glorious logging days of Phrae.
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And the amount of timber was staggering

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A copy of the original lease for the logging
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The manager of the day
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The weapon of the day
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an elephant howdah
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well worth checking out sometime in Phrae.
GPS Waypoint:N18 08.392 E100 08.133
 

Alamo

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i wood like to ride up there next week and visit this provence and museum.
Sounds like it wood be very fun.
 

DavidFL

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Back to the start of this thread: Free Seri Thai.
One of their purposes was to harass the Japanese occupation forces.
There was an attempt to blow up an important bridge in the area, with Seri Thai helping direct the bombing.
Some of the bombs landed in the river, unexploded,
The war finished & the bombs were forgotten.
Years later the bombs were rediscovered, the gunpowder removed & one of the bombs ended up as a temple bell in Long city in 1973.

Wat Sri Don Kham is the wat.
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the bell of freedom
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The Bomb Bell
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Wat Sri Don Kham also has a stunning museum of Buddha images
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The museum is locked & air conditioned, such are the value of the beautiful images.
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Wat Sri Don Kham is 250 metres from the Long police station, in the main street & next to the market.
You can't miss it.
 
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DavidFL

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Phrae attractions continued - Phrae is a gem of a town for culture & history.

The Khum Wichai Racha House
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built over 100 years ago, but now a tragic failed restoration project & repossessed by the bank.
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In the early 90s it was in a dilapidated state
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& bought by Veera Star, a retired 66 year old Vietnam war Veteran from Bangkok, who fell in love with the house.
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Veera's plan was to return the house to it's former glory.
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The house once belonged to the chief of Phrae, when the province was being integrated into Siam.
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When the Shan rebellion was under way against the rulers from Bangkok, the provincial chief hid native Bangkok workers in the house to save them being lynched by the Shan.
In WW2 it was used by the Seri Thai resistance for planning attacks against the Japanese.
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In recent years the owners were unable to maintain the house & it went to ruin.
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Then Veera bought it. His dream was to renovate it & restore it to its former glory as a piece of Phrae history.
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But the costs were too great & even after selling of his 10 properties in Bangkok & elsewhere Vera was still short. Veera borrowed money, pleaded for help from the Fine Arts Department, but eventually the banks closed in & repossessed the property. The debt owed = 10 million baht & the house stands "abandoned."
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Approximate GPS: N18.14181 E100.13711
Wichai Racha House is in the same street as the Vongburi House. Vonburi House is well sign posted in Phrae.
 

Ian Bungy

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Bloody Shame! Beautifully Built! Wood requires such a Big amount of Upkeep! The Huge one on the Water Front in Phayao is still being Restored. They have been Working on that one for Years! Sad for the Guy to Lose everything when Trying to Preserve the Past for everyone's Benefit!
 

ianyonok

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Wonderful info, David. Thanks for putting all that together.
Phrae is such an interesting province and now I have several more places on the list, to visit now.

Last time I was there, I did find the original 100 year old Phrae Christian Hospital. It looks beyond restoration unfortunately.
The modern hospital is easy to find and set in huge grounds with many old buildings tucked away behind the back. But I had to ask several people in the hospital where the old building was, before anyone could tell me where it was. It is actually less than 100m away, to the side of the new hospital, but completely abandoned.

The entrance bridge
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A safe that has been gas-axed to gain access.
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This appears to be a much later built emergency dept, just used for storage now.
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The wheelchair ramp
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.
 

DavidFL

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Wonderful info, David. Thanks for putting all that together.
Phrae is such an interesting province and now I have several more places on the list, to visit now.

Last time I was there, I did find the original 100 year old Phrae Christian Hospital. It looks beyond restoration unfortunately.
The modern hospital is easy to find and set in huge grounds with many old buildings tucked away behind the back. But I had to ask several people in the hospital where the old building was, before anyone could tell me where it was. It is actually less than 100m away, to the side of the new hospital, but completely abandoned.

The entrance bridge
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A safe that has been gas-axed to gain access.
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This appears to be a much later built emergency dept, just used for storage now.
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The wheelchair ramp
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.

Glad you found it.
I had a quick look in a hurry, a couple of weeks ago but could not find it.
I need to go back & look again with more time on my hands.
 

DavidFL

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Phrae - attractions- the Forestry Dept Teak Museum

The Teak Museum or the Museum of Forest, the 1st Training Center (Phrae) is located at the 1st Training Center (Phrae) under the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. The museum consists of three buildings made from teak situated in the area of 6 Rais which were the estate of the East Asiatic Company from Denmark. The company was under a teak concession granted to operate in the area along the Yom River in the reign of King Rama V. These buildings were used as the office building and the residence for executives and officers of the company.

The Museum # 2 is the main exhibition building that is open.
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the museum has a collection of teak items
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plus a stack of old photos showing the glorious logging days of Phrae.
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And the amount of timber was staggering

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A copy of the original lease for the logging
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The manager of the day
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The weapon of the day
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an elephant howdah
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well worth checking out sometime in Phrae.
GPS Waypoint:N18 08.392 E100 08.133

There is outrage in Phrae, some of the old 120 year old colonial buildings in Phrae have been demolished.
The office of the Bombay Trading Company on the Yom river pier company destroyed

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Phrae residents cry foul as iconic building razed to ground

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They know no shame.
Google Maps
 

DavidFL

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There is outrage in Phrae, some of the old 120 year old colonial buildings in Phrae have been demolished.
The office of the Bombay Trading Company on the Yom river pier company destroyed

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Phrae residents cry foul as iconic building razed to ground

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They know no shame.
Google Maps

A report in English on that beautiful building destroyed.
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The loss of the old Bombay Burmah Buidling in Phrae

On 3 August 2019, Siamese Heritage Trust of the Siam Society conducted a study trip “Touching the heritage conservation pulse in Phrae”, brought 21 members to visit many architectural heritage sites of Phrae Old Town. We had a lovely coffee break in a beautiful colonial-style house on the bank of Yom river where we also talked about the vision for cultural heritage management. An amazing local resident, Khun Narumon Wongwan, heir of Former Director of the School of Forestry, explained the significance of the building that it served as an office of Bombay Burmah Trading Company, which was granted a logging concession in the western Yom River in 1889 and the East Asiatic Company occupied the place later on. She pointed at the pier where tons of logs were bond together and some of them were transferred through Chetawan village to other places. It was such a beautiful circumstance, when people’s memory, historical evidence, and cultural landscape were telling the same story.

16 June 2020 we were informed by Khun Narumon that the building was torn down. It was unclear what was happening to this historical building. The Forestry Conservation Area Office 13 that allowed the Siam Society to use this building could not give any useful information. We learned from Bangkok Post later that the office director issued an order to dismantle the building as part of the learning center's renovation project, noting the work was financed by a budget sought in the previous fiscal year. No study was carried out in the restoration of the building.

Notice and suggestions:

- When visited the building 10 months ago, we did not notice that the building is severely damage, so that it needs to be deconstructed. There was no warning at all.

- The office made the project unclear to people and led to a misunderstanding by the vague terms of conservation/renovation/reconstruction. Local people did not expect a dismantling and did not be aware of it. If they would have clearly understood the plan, they would have resisted in the early stage.

- Surprisingly, government officials issued an illegal order, without acknowledgment that even though the building is unregistered and located outside of the designated Old Town area, this kind of historic building is a local, regional, and national heritage by itself and it is a subject to the Act on Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums, B.E. 2504. This action reflects the lack of heritage protection perspective in the vision and mindset of the leader. This topic should be discussed further, when and how this perspective should it be installed.

- The Siam Society supports that the next process of this renovation project should be more inclusive. The office should open opportunities for residents, and local heritage advocate networks, as well as heritage experts, to become a part of the project working committee.

- The provincial historic listed building system should be installed with a proper mechanism, so that this mismanagement will never happen again anywhere else, and the conservation guidance with respect to the best practices be provided.

- Lastly, a heritage alert platform/application/desk might be useful for people to report right away when they noticed that something wrong is happening to the cultural heritage in their neighborhood. The immediate response could help restrain the situation before it is too late.​
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Source: The Siam Society.
 

DavidFL

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A report in English on that beautiful building destroyed.
View attachment 136214

The loss of the old Bombay Burmah Buidling in Phrae

On 3 August 2019, Siamese Heritage Trust of the Siam Society conducted a study trip “Touching the heritage conservation pulse in Phrae”, brought 21 members to visit many architectural heritage sites of Phrae Old Town. We had a lovely coffee break in a beautiful colonial-style house on the bank of Yom river where we also talked about the vision for cultural heritage management. An amazing local resident, Khun Narumon Wongwan, heir of Former Director of the School of Forestry, explained the significance of the building that it served as an office of Bombay Burmah Trading Company, which was granted a logging concession in the western Yom River in 1889 and the East Asiatic Company occupied the place later on. She pointed at the pier where tons of logs were bond together and some of them were transferred through Chetawan village to other places. It was such a beautiful circumstance, when people’s memory, historical evidence, and cultural landscape were telling the same story.​
16 June 2020 we were informed by Khun Narumon that the building was torn down. It was unclear what was happening to this historical building. The Forestry Conservation Area Office 13 that allowed the Siam Society to use this building could not give any useful information. We learned from Bangkok Post later that the office director issued an order to dismantle the building as part of the learning center's renovation project, noting the work was financed by a budget sought in the previous fiscal year. No study was carried out in the restoration of the building.​
Notice and suggestions:​
- When visited the building 10 months ago, we did not notice that the building is severely damage, so that it needs to be deconstructed. There was no warning at all.​
- The office made the project unclear to people and led to a misunderstanding by the vague terms of conservation/renovation/reconstruction. Local people did not expect a dismantling and did not be aware of it. If they would have clearly understood the plan, they would have resisted in the early stage.​
- Surprisingly, government officials issued an illegal order, without acknowledgment that even though the building is unregistered and located outside of the designated Old Town area, this kind of historic building is a local, regional, and national heritage by itself and it is a subject to the Act on Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums, B.E. 2504. This action reflects the lack of heritage protection perspective in the vision and mindset of the leader. This topic should be discussed further, when and how this perspective should it be installed.​
- The Siam Society supports that the next process of this renovation project should be more inclusive. The office should open opportunities for residents, and local heritage advocate networks, as well as heritage experts, to become a part of the project working committee.​
- The provincial historic listed building system should be installed with a proper mechanism, so that this mismanagement will never happen again anywhere else, and the conservation guidance with respect to the best practices be provided.​
- Lastly, a heritage alert platform/application/desk might be useful for people to report right away when they noticed that something wrong is happening to the cultural heritage in their neighborhood. The immediate response could help restrain the situation before it is too late.​
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Source: The Siam Society.

The scene of the crime.
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There is a significant attempt to repair the damage & restore the magnificent old building to its former glory, with a proper master plan.
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The old timber has been collected, itemized & stored under a nearby house on the property.

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The Chetawan property is certainly an idyllic location on the banks of the Yom River.
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and it's easy to image the teak wallah's sitting out there having a few Gin & Tonics on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Whilst chilling, looking at the view a wonderful little old lady rocked up to engage the old GTR fellah in conversation.

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87 & a bit she was and what a wonderful character.
Single, never married, no kids & lived just a couple of hundred metres away all her life.
Talking with her there was no doubt she's seen the changes & witnessed a lot in her life.
The undoubted highlight of the day was so simple & yet so beautiful.

The Ban Chetawan location สวนรุกขชาติเชตะวัน

Thanks for the photos & coming Dave DKT.
 

DKT Dave

Ol'Timer
Sep 25, 2019
48
51
18
What a great thread. What an amazing city Phrae is. The Baan Thep Museum certainly is a gem of a place, with an amazing owner who showed us around.
It was a pity the Teak Museum wasn’t open.
There are so many interesting places to visit in this town!