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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture File: Thailand series at ThaiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring essential cultural information about Thailand, Thai Culture and Thai People. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 3 - Chiang Mai Province.
Chiang Mai, or เชียงใหม่ , is located about seven hundred kilometers north of Bangkok, and is Thailand's second-largest economic center. The province has many natural resources, mountains, and waterfalls, as well as a distinctive cultural identity, which draws in both Thai and foreign tourists.
King Meng Rai, or พ่อขุนเม็งราย, founded the city as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom in 1296. It remained the capital city for over two hundred years, until 1556, when the Burmese conquered the Lanna Kingdom. In 1774, King Taksin and Rama I helped drive out the Burmese and merged Chiang Mai into the Siam Kingdom, or อาณาจักรสยาม in Thai.
Chiang Mai has over three hundred Buddhist temples, or วัด, throughout the province, but within municipal limits it has 121 temples blended in among the modern buildings, shops, and hotels. This makes Chiang Mai one of the few places in Thailand where it’s possible to find centuries-old chedis and temples right next to modern architecture. The original city layout still exists as a neat square surrounded by a moat with vestiges of the fortified wall and its four main gates offering prime access to the old town, or เมืองเก่า. Inside the wall, there are no tall buildings. The local houses still maintain the traditional Lanna style, which is beautiful, clean, and attractive.
When a visitor comes to Chiang Mai, he or she should go to pay respect to the holy Buddha relics, or พระบรมสารีริกธาตุ, at a temple called วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ (Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep), located on the west side of town. วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ (Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep) was built way back in 1383, but is still the best place to get a bird's eye view of the city today. The temple can be reached via a steep Naga staircase comprised of three hundred steps, or alternately by railcar.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
What would you want to do if you were in Chiang Mai?
Leave a comment telling us at ThaiPod101.com! Until next time!