I found myself with some time to kill here in Chiang Mai – what to do? I’m not into the cooking classes or bathing elephants, or overrun hill tribe trekking … Even if it is a whiskey trek where your never drunk alone.
Enter destination Wat Ket or aka Wat Gate. The temple where a quirky museum tells the history of Thailand.
Wats (Buddhist temples) are a dime a dozen here in Chiang Mai, and most of Thailand for that matter. At Wat Ket (also spelled Wat Kate and Wat Gate), the museum is far more interesting than the temple it’s a part of.
The Wat Gategaram Museum was established on December 19, 1999 by a group of philanthropists. The former abbot’s living quarters were renovated to make the museum, along with newspaper clippings, pictures, and plenty of other stuff.
One of the many groups of photos on display. Not pictured elsewhere are a number of other objects on display – a gramaphone, weighing scales, old-school fans, water pumps, and plenty more. It really does feel like a time warp in many ways.
That’s an elephant skull, a reminder of how huge these creatures are. There’s also a pile of elephant bones in another room, seemingly without the room to display them better. Also scattered about are a number of magazines and books, typewriters, bicycles … it’s like a flea market.
Some old Buddhist fans on display …
Various radios …
The monks used to listen to Frank … good taste.
The majority of the museum is in need of both better displays, better preservation techniques, and better lighting. The building itself is far from weather-tight, and makes me wonder how well the exhibits inside are bound for this world. Perhaps it’s a reminder of the Buddhist precept of impermanence, or perhaps the donations aren’t yet at a level where they can get everything in a new-fangled sort of case. It’s worth the visit, but try not to set your expectations too high.
Name: Wat Ket Museum (also spelled Wat Gate)
Address: 96 Ban Watgate, Chiang Mai
Directions: From the northeast corner of Chiang Mai’s square moat, head east on Wichayanon road. Take it all the way to the river and the T (about 600 meters), then turn right. Go 200 meters, then turn left and cross the river. Take the first right after crossing the river, then go about 300 meters and look left for the entrance.
Hours: 9am-4pm (for the museum), during daylight hours for the temple