The area around Thapae Gate is one of the most exciting place to gather in this small Chiang Mai city. In the 13th century, the Lanna Empire was created in Chiang Mai, indicated by the building of walls surrounding the city with gates on each side. Chang Puak in the north, Suan Dok in the west, Suan Prung on the south, and Thapae in the east facing towards the rising sun. Before, the centre of Lanna Empire was located in Chiang Rai (1262-1275). In the Lanna Empire era, from 13th until the 18th century, this wall functioned as a defence mechanism against the attacks from neighbouring kingdoms, especially the Burma and Mongol. Now, this area is called the Old City.
In front of the Thapae Gate, there is a spacious public area that is always crowded with people. Among them are; tourists, musicians, and merchants that make this place look like a night market. There are also locals who are looking to relief their stress. Thapae Gate has become my favourite place while I was staying in Chiang Mai, because the evening atmosphere, supported by the lights coming from the gate, is very beautiful. The temperature was also at its coolest around 14 to 17 degrees Celsius.
In the 31st January of 2019, after a long day of recording the Bumrungburi Market and the adzan from Hidayatul Islam Banhaw Mosque, I decided to relief my stress in the area of Thapae Gate while eating some durian that I bought from the market earlier. It was around ten o’clock at night.
After only half an hour of rest, my relaxation was distracted by three children that were playing in the area. They were around 5 to 8 years old. Their voices seemed to echo across the area as it starts to get vacant along with the rise of the moon. They are the children of the merchants, who sell their goods in the Thapae area. As the merchants starts to pack their goods, the children played with each other while waiting for their parents to finish.
My intention was to get some rest, but the silly sounds of the children made me unpack my recording set. They were quite suspicious at first, seeing me following them with my recorder and camera. However, they did not seem to mind as they went back playing their game. Aside from playing catch, they also played a traditional game that I did not know the name of. Before playing, they had a faint conversation. Their conversation seemed very interesting just listen to this recording.
What can you do? Children’s mischief is very much unavoidable. When the merchants finished packing their goods, they call upon their children, which they responded by imitating their parents in a mocking fashion. The voice and laughter echoed through the walls of Thapae Gate. I could only smile at the silly actions of the children.