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Life in Chiang Mai


A sparkling new shopping centre – but how to approach it?

By Sunny Tak
Chiang Mai’s night sky is these days brightened and enlivened by the lovely colored lighting arranged around the new Maya shopping centre.
Unfortunately, the rather pedestrian range of shops and eating places inside does not quite live up to the great expectations caused by viewing the shining outside of this new building. But what is much more troubling is how to get to the place, on foot?
It is situated on a very busy crossroads, with a constant flow of traffic. There are filters and many drivers also jump the red lights, especially tuk tuks and those on scooters. The lights themselves cause constant traffic jams, because they only seem to change about once in every ten minutes or so. Approaching Maya from the south side of Huay Kaew Road, and negotiating the filters and many different lanes of traffic, it took me fully 20 minutes to get to the shopping centre corner from the other side of the road. No wonder this huge shopping centre sits virtually empty, for most of the time!
Since the developers have obviously spent billions creating this sparkling edifice, they would have been better-advised to have also spent a little more thought and money on improving the pedestrian access to the place.
An underpass, or an overhead walkway, should have been built to ease access to it. This is routinely done for major new shopping centres in Bangkok and should be copied here as well.
The nearby busy Nimmanhaemin Road, lined with boutique shops, street vendors, hotels, residences, guesthouses, coffee shops and restaurants, has clearly developed from a narrow and little-used byroad. These days it is a major city avenue, but again with little provision for walkers to cross it. Traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, bridges and underpasses are all noticeable by their absence. This means that you can only cross the road by jaywalking, which is of course dangerous for all concerned.
This city’s authorities should take more action to upgrade the road systems here in Chiang Mai, including making much better provision for pedestrians to cross the busy roads here.
The jumping of traffic lights, the absence of enough underpasses, pedestrian crossings or bridges over the roads, all point to a city that has developed very quickly, in terms of having now many more residents and visitors, much faster than has the road and pavement infrastructure to support such vastly increased numbers of people here.
That regrettable falling behind in addressing the real needs can be readily remedied by the Chiang Mai city authorities now taking much more proactive steps to bring this city’s streets up to modern standards.

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A sparkling new shopping centre – but how to approach it?