Thanks to a grant of $US 1.81 million from GEF – the Global Environmental Fund of the World Bank the once popular 3 Kings evening exercise spot for our Skateboarding boys has been destroyed and skateboards are now forbidden there. Instead the boys are now forced to go across the river and either play around the decrepit Railway Park swimming pool or as they informed me beyond the Super Highway at Promenada.
It would appear that the GEF grant entitled :
Chiang Mai Sustainable Urban Transport Project
has determined that a large expanse of stone paving, replacing former paving of similar extent, and providing almost no shade is conducive to walking and bicycling in the hot tropical sun.
Some years before the project’s commencement a 2 km bicycle lane had been painted beginning at the Ping River Iron Bridge, along Loi Kroh to the western extreme of the old city moat. In recent years this has become a danger as the municipality has failed to repaint the road markings, however none of the $1.81 million was spent on this. Instead we saw a bizarre paint job.
While Chiang Mai appears determined to make the center of town as hot and as unpleasant and walking and biking unfriendly as the ugly Super Highway, in Ho Chi Minh City the residents enjoy a great oasis of shade. The trees Hopea odorata are also indigenous here in Chiang Mai but the city plants none.