Chiang Mai is an ancient city, over 700 years old. It is also a very modern city with high end shopping malls, a super highway, high rise condominiums and traffic to rival any major U.S. city.
The original Chiang Mai is surrounded by a moat and a gate built in the 1290s, to prevent possible invasions from neighboring Burma (now Myanmar). The city has now expanded far beyond these walls, to a large and vibrant metropolis of nearly one million people!
For me, there is something very powerful about living in a place that is so old. There are ruins of Buddhist temples every where and the gate and moat are constant reminders that I am walking through ancient streets. I feel safe and very much at peace here.
The gate and the moat serve a very practical purpose. Kathy and I tend to get lost a lot but finding our way around Chiang Mai has been a breeze! The moat and the gate are great landmarks for finding our way home. The moat is square, with 4 corners and 4 gates. We live just outside of Chang Phuak Gate, Tai Pae Gate is east of us, Chiang Mai Gate is South and Sean Pung Gate is to our west. We have enjoyed walks (about 45 minutes one way) to all of the gates.
We have one week left on this visit to Chiang Mai and I realized that the moat and gates are something I will miss a lot. We will definitely return to this ancient, yet modern and comfortable city.