I remember the first time I was turned on by poetry. I was in high school Freshman or Sophomore English, and the poem was Carl Sandburg’s Chicago. Generally speaking, I was greatly turned on by the poetry we were reading, but Sandburg’s Chicago was different, gritty, and decidedly real. It wasn’t about love, or love lost, or nature or some abstract feeling. It was a dirty workman’s boot stomping in front of your face and I loved it.

Now I realize Chiang Rai, Thailand is so far removed from Chicago, Illinois, and it isn’t even a similar kind of city, but the buildings that I have been photographing in downtown Chiang Rai have a quality that reminds me of Sandburg’s poem.

At one of the “fresh” market’s entrances, Trairat Rd.

I think that quality being – concrete, soot and buildings that have seen fresher days.



There is also something foreboding and ominous about the lighting when darker clouds join the landscape.

Wat Mung Muang, 2014




I never stop being amazed by the bamboo scaffolding…


On the corner of Prasopsook and Phaholyothin Rd.


I love the lighting on this building, and the streetlight overhead.



A rather pretty clinic sign, don’t you think?


On Isaraparb Road, a very yellow vegetarian restaurant.
Darul Aman Mosque


Somewhere on Thanalai Road before the rain starts.


Soft drinks sign, 2013

Colors are what usually grab my attention. And I don’t think I fully appreciated colors until I moved in Portland, Oregon. When I first moved there in 2001, I was too busy teaching, ironically an artistic curriculum, to recognize the way colors pop when it is overcast. But when I returned in 2003, I saw springtime flowers and the landscape in a new way (another benefit to being an avid walker).

I also like to notice what others will walk on by. Of course, I don’t do this consciously. It’s just a habit that I finally noticed about myself. After years of asking friends, “Did you see that?” or “Did you see her?” and receiving enough “Nos,” I began to recognize that I’m a pretty good observer. (Yes, I’m bragging. I can’t sing or draw, so give me this, alright?)

So, I suppose this is where these strange photos of ugly buildings (not the mosque) and signs comes from. Noticing stuff. Cheers.

30 replies on “Downtown Chiang Rai (in pics)

    1. I used to work in construction, and I have a natural interest in how things are built. So, the lack of safety and safety equipment is mind-boggling.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Lani, love the photos and observations. That soft drink sign, just as is, would not look out of place in the Museum of Modern Art.


  2. I really like the sign and your comment about Portland. I remember walking through the University in Eugene on a dark grey rainy day. The students were moving to their next class and I was going the against the flow like a salmon swimming upstream. I stopped in the middle of the street and just starred………at all the black jackets, black pants and boots, black umbrellas and backpacks. I was, at that moment in time the only one wearing color and it happened to be a full length hot pink rain jacket. It make me laugh out loud and I felt so happy to be rebellious! I wish I had a picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG. That reminds me, when I lived in PDX I had a cashmere double-breasted vintage (very Beatles) red coat. I loved that thing. (It’s probably smelly in storage – sad.) I felt very warm and stylish, and people would actually stop me, and give me compliments on being bright on cloudy and rainy days.


  3. You have an observant eye, Lani. Even two! The scaffolding reminds me of Jacky Chan movies hehehe. Your photos are down-to-earth and real, just like the poem. Thank you for the link, and for the glimpse into your world.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. for those of us not living in Thailand every one of your pictures is a joy. these particularly so.

    the one of the police officer leaning against a Honda Wave is truly worth a thousand words.



    1. It was a little scary taking it. If he had turned around, I’m not sure if he would have liked it! Thanks, Jim!


  5. Wow, that bamboo scaffolding looks crazy. And I really liked seeing all the other photos along with your commentary. It’s interesting how they reminded you of that poem; I need to look it up now…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Really great photo tour Lani! I love the connection between the poem and where you’re at now, it’s always an amazing experience to feel past connections being tied together in the now.
    ~ Andrea ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful shots!
    We just arrived in chiang mai today and hopefully we can capture the beauty as much as you did.


  8. I love your photos! And I love that you can bring it all back to the first poem that really got your attention. It’s like everything coming around full circle. πŸ™‚


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