Then the Janus-faced joker of tourism wandered into town. Starting with a trickle of savvy Bangkokians in search of something more authentically Thai than mega-malls and franchised life, the word spread that here was a piece of heritage that hadn’t yet been slam-dunked with T-shirt stalls and market kitsch. “Yes, the town has much history,” a local woman tells me, “but it is written in Thai — and I haven’t read it yet.” I find a Thai website that, having run itself through an English translator app, describes the town in fantastic cut-up poetics that William Burroughs might applaud: “Chiang Khan, the beauty of diamonds coconut long glass, she was as silk to the island and curry source of culture.”  [2014]

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