Day 1 – Chiang Mai – Lampang
Visit heritage houses by samlor
Your guide and driver will meet you at the hotel to start your tour to follow the footsteps of the Teak Wallahs. We will start our tour at the Warorot Market where our samlor drivers wait for us. The samlor, a bicycle taxi, was an important mode of public transportation in the past. They pedal us to the Mosway Manor and the Upayokin House, two heritage houses from the heyday of the teak industry. We continue to the Wongluekiat House, a teak wooden house on pillars. Our next destination is the beautiful Lanna Ancient house, one of the oldest houses in Chiang Mai. The owner was a teak trader from Burma. Unfortunately, none of these houses are accessible, so we have to look from the outside in.
The William Bain House
Opposite this house was the compound of the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation, comprising three houses. We will show you pictures of the main house, taken just before World War Two. At that time, Evelyn van Millingen, one of the teak wallahs, lived in the house. Unfortunately, they took down this beautiful house in1973. After this, we will have a brief look at the first wooden church. Missionary doctor Marion Alonso Cheek designed and built this church. He was involved in the teak industry in the very early days. We continue to the 137 Pillars House. The restaurant of this hotel is the old house of William Bain, the last manager of the Borneo Company and one of the most well-known of the Teak Wallahs. It is a beautiful teak wooden house where we will have a drink.
Wat Ket Museum
After this, we will walk to the Wat Ket Museum. Jack Bain, son of William Bain, the last manager of the Borneo Company, founded this museum at Wat Ket Karaam in 2001. The museum contains artifacts and pictures, some of which are related to the teak industry. From the museum, we walk to the Chansom Anusorn footbridge, the location of the first teak wooden bridge over the Ping River. We will show you pictures of this bridge, known as the “Khua Kula” (Northern Thai language for “bridge of foreigners”). Floating teak logs damaged the bridge in 1932, after which it collapsed.
The sports club of the Teak Wallahs
Next is the Gymkhana Club, the old colonial sports club. In 1898 fourteen people, mostly British employees of the above-mentioned teak companies founded this club. On the walls are group photographs of members, most of which were involved in the teak industry. We will have lunch at the club, with a view of the famous rain tree. Our next destination is the Foreign Cemetery, next to the sports club. This is the last resting place of many Teak Wallahs. Every gravestone has an interesting story. Your guide will tell some of those stories.
The Queripel House
Our last destination will be the house of Arthur Lionel Queripel, an employee of the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation. The house is on the Lanna Traditional House Museum compound, which showcases several beautiful traditional wooden houses. It is now a small museum about the teak industry and Arthur Queripel and his family. We have arranged a private visit to this museum, after which we will drive to Lampang, where we will arrive later in the day.
Overnight in the Asia Lampang Hotel
Day 2 – Lampang – Chiang Mai
Lampang, the center of the teak trade
After breakfast, your guide will meet you at the hotel. Our horse carts will wait for us outside the hotel. Lampang is also known as the Horse Carriage City. It is the only city in Thailand where horse carts are still in use to take visitors around. Lampang was the real center of the teak trade before World War Two, and the industry left its marks in this city. There are heritage houses and Shan and Burmese temples that all are related to that period. The British teak companies had been in business in Burma before they became involved in Siam. Many Shan and Burmese employees followed them to work in North Thailand. They built houses and temples in their own familiar style. We will visit some of those today.
The Louis T.Leonowens House
In our horse carts, we pass the historic Ratchadapisek Bridge over the Wang River. This bridge survived World War Two partly thanks to Lucy Starling, an American missionary teacher. We first head for the Horse Carriage center, an interesting place to repair horse carts and have some very unusual vehicles. Not far is the old Forestry Department office. It is still in use.
After a brief visit, we pay a visit to the “Louis House.” The restoration of this historic house has been completed in early 2021. It was the office and the house of Louis T.Leonowens, the son of Anna Leonowens of the book and movie “The King and I.” Louis had his own teak logging company, named after him. Our horse carriage ride ends at Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao. Of particular interest is the Burmese-style mondop. Burmese employees of the logging companies funded the construction.
Heritage Houses at Kad Kong Ta
After Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao, we continue to Kad Kong Ta. First, we visit the impressive wooden viharn of Wat Koh Walukaram. Kad Kong Ta was the old market of Lampang, along which there are several beautiful “gingerbread” houses. The most interesting is the Moung Ngwe Zin House, which is now a coffee shop and an information center of the heritage houses of Kad Kong Ta. After this, it is time for lunch at our favorite place: the Lampang Riverside Restaurant. Overlooking the Wang River, we enjoy a delicious Thai lunch.
The Burmese temples of Lampang
After lunch, it is time to visit two of the most beautiful Burmese temples of Lampang: Wat Sri Chum and Wat Sri Rong Muang. Wat Sri Chum has been restored very nicely and is a small gem. From Wat Sri Chum, we drive to Wat Sri Rong Muang, which is quite different but very recognizable as a Burmese-style-inspired temple. Along the way, we pass the Bombay House, part of the former Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation compound, and the location of the old Lampang sports club, now a public park. The last stop today is the Lampang Railway Station. The station dated back to 1916 and was the background of pictures of arriving and departing British teak wallahs.
Then it is time to drive back to Chiang Mai. We hope you have learned a lot about the teak trade in North Thailand. In Chiang Mai, we drop you off at your hotel.