Folks in Chiang Mai may feel attracted to the idea of having some where to walk in style, to promenade, considering that apart from the weekend walking streets walking is mostly nigh impossible considering the lack of pavements and authority sanctioned (thanks for the kick-back) obstructions. So abandoning the Nimmanmess, Promenada sounds like the place to walk, if you can get there way out east, beyond the bicycle no-go- zone of the Super Highway. – and here is the free bus timetable -until the Rot Daeng Brigade find out?
Well where does the obviously romance language name come from? One of the newer EU members, and perhaps that’s why the EU Film Festival has moved there? Or was there another incentive in TiT? Our intrepid suburbanite reports:
Promenada Shopping Centre
If like me you’re a bit of a shopping freak, you’ll have been looking forward to the opening of the new Promenada Shopping Mall on the middle ring road, near Big C Donjan. I’ve seen it develop from a muddy field and was thus hugely excited to hear that it was finally going to open on 7th June.
We were promised a “resort mall”, with trees and water features inside and tropical gardens outside – not to mention loads of shops! The pictures look wonderful and it appeared that it really would stand alongside destination malls like Siam Paragon. This is a place that’s going to put Chiang Mai on the map, I thought to myself.
I decided to visit on its opening day 7th June, when we were promised a “soft opening”, the whole mall to be opened on 12th July. I joined the queues of excited shoppers trying to get in and that was the first problem – not nearly enough parking. After queuing for ½ hour, I managed to find a space on some waste ground next to the mall, much of which was covered in builders’ rubble. Never mind, it’s going to be worth it. Having found my way to the entrance, I climbed the stairs and walked in not to the light and airy shopping centre I was promised, but a dark and shabby corner. In fairness, there is another entrance further along which is more impressive, but it was not obvious that that was yet open.
We were promised a soft opening, but this felt more like a self-guided tour of a building site. The floor was bare concrete – no tiling or stone as I would expect – strange changes in floor level, where I assume there will eventually be the promised trees and water features, workmen in hard hats, trailing wires, and shop fitters frantically fitting out units – those that did not have hoardings promising new shops to come soon. All this to the deafening background of brash music and over amplified announcements. A resort mall this is not! The quality of the finish is poor and does not compete with Bangkok’s malls, or even our own Central Airport Plaza.
Of the shops that were open, food outlets dominated – I spotted three chain Japanese restaurants next to each other. There is no “destination” store that I could see – given that this is not owned by Central Property, there will be no Robinsons or Central – and indeed the current lynch pin appears to be “Uniglo”, the oriental equivalent of the low budget British chain Primark.
Everywhere there is scaffolding and work in progress. Unless Promenada have a Fairy Godmother who can wave a magic wand over it in the next 4 weeks, it is going to be a long time (if ever) before it looks like the promised shopping and leisure wonderland we’re promised. With Central Festival and other developments on the cards, unless the owners rapidly get their act together, this shows every sign of becoming yet another giant white elephant.
In the meantime, I’m sticking with the Airport Plaza!