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Chiang Mai May Update – Earthquakes and all

Wat phra doi suteph stupa
The stupa at Wat Phra Doi Suteph

The May Holidays

It’s already more than a month since Songkran, and the May holiday season is finally over along with the gay party week. The faithful got another good soaking with last Tuesday’s full moon when they took the annual night time walk up Doi Suteph mountain to celebrate Visakha Bucha Day, one of the year’s biggest Buddhist occasions. Early May also included holidays for May Day, Coronation Day and the Royal Ploughing Ceremony so it’s been a busy, or rather not so busy time.

It seems summer is almost over, the new school term has started and there are no more holidays scheduled until Arsarnha Bucha Day and Khao Phansa (Start of Buddhist Lent) on 11th and 12th July. We are now in that strange period (for those originating from northern climes) when the sun transitions to the north of us meaning it’s time to reposition the pot plants for a couple of month’s. So far, May has been as hot as ever, with the sun more or less directly overhead and temperatures peaking at 38 degrees. However, this year the heat has brought with it more than a few big summer storms which have wreaked havoc in a few locations here in the north. Looks like we could be in for a long and wet rainy season. The good news is the frequent storms have cooled the temperature making nigthtimes more pleasent and rapidly returned parched garden areas to a lush shade of green.

May 2014 Temperature in Chiang Mai (wunderground.com)
May 2014 Temperature in Chiang Mai (wunderground.com)

All Shook Up

May got of to a shaky start when Northern Thailand was hit by one of the strongest earthquakes in recent history. The 6.0 tremblor struck at 18:11 (local time) on May 5th in Mae Lao, around 25Km south west of Chiang Rai in Amphur Phan. It was clearly felt in Chiang Mai city with many panicked people running from tall buildings and shopping malls. Close to the epicentre, several buildings damages with a few collapsing resulting in one fatality and several injured.

The main highway 118 between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai collapsed in a couple of locations and damage was reported at several buildings and temples. In Particular, the famed white wat or Wat Rong Khun suffered significant damage and will take a couple of years to repair, although the Wat has partially re-opened to tourists. In the following days there have been hundreds of aftershocks which are still continuing, and at least one further strong quake.

Wat Rong Khun - The White temple in Chiang Rai (Source wikimedia)

Chiang Mai Situation

Fortunately, in Chiang Mai there was no serious damage or injuries and life has carried on as usual. Meanwhile, another seismic event occurred in Bangkok when the constitutional court dismissed the Prime Minister from office further deepening Thailand’s long running political crisis and protests. Although the situation in Thailand has received significant negative coverage in the overseas media, and prompted travel warnings from several western governments, the situation in Chiang Mai is fine. There have been no noticeable protests or other problems here and life continues at its usual slow pace.

If you are looking to visit Thailand and Chiang Mai, May and June are not bad months to come, before the real heavy rains set in in August and September. If you’ve not been here before there is plenty to do and see for the newbie. And if you’ve been before, but not recently, there are many changes to check out, particularity the entertainment and dining scene. Chiang Mai has seen explosive growth in the last few years with new developments and shopping malls springing up everywhere. Alongside this there are many, many new restaurants and bars which are challenging the traditional view of Chiang Mai’s night-life.

Visiting Gay Chiang Mai

If you are planning on visiting you might find some of our other articles interesting. Our article “Chiang Mai – Everything is fine in paradise” from Janauary 2014 gives a good overview of visiting Chiang Mai. To find out about places to stay read our piece on staying gay in Chiang Mai.

A good place to start for information on gay places is our overview of the Chiang Mai gay scene whilst articles in the category “Gay scene updates” can update you on recent changes. Our gay guide had listings of all the bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes, clubs, saunas, massage places hotels and guest houses. For information about forthcoming events check our gay Chiang Mai events calendar.

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