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Thread: Chiang Mai Women Correctional Institution, Northern Thailand, August 2019

  1. #1
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    Default Chiang Mai Women Correctional Institution, Northern Thailand, August 2019


    1. The History
    Located just north of the old city in the centre of Chiang Mai, there’s not a lot of information on the web (in English) about the former prison. It dates back to the early 1900s (although some other sources refer to the 1920s) when it was originally used to incarcerate men. It was built on the land that had formally housed the palace “Wiang Kaew”, owned by King Mengrai and latterly the Chiangmai provincial governor’s house, which was knocked down in 1902. Sources state that between 1998-1999 it became a female-only institution predominantly for women incarcerated for drug-related offences. All the female inmates were then moved to Chiang Mai’s male prison, away from the centre of the old town and then on to another penitentiary on the outskirts of the city in Mae Rim. The prison operation for over a century and was infamous for being a death row facility, with executions performed within its four walls.

    Archive shot of the prison:

    Chaing Mai prison by HughieDW, on Flickr

    It was finally closed as a penal institution in 2013. In the first week after its closure seven days and nights of Buddhist rituals held by monks between Saturday, January 19th and Sunday, January 27th. It was paid for by the government and included participation by the general public. Thai cultural belief requires such rituals to be held at places with a ‘difficult’ history. Thai culture requires spirits to be treated with respect and vigilance. Appeasing the spirits of those who once dwelled there was thought to stop them from seeking vengeance from future inhabitants. The prison’s reputation wasn’t helped by the discovery of a number of bodies in the prison’s well, who had apparently committed suicide. Official numbers or whether the cause of death was really suicide will never be known.

    Shortly after closure:

    Chaing Mai prison 2 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The prison was due to be torn down soon after the date of its closure, given the location is prime real estate and there were plans to develop a commercial complex on the site that included shops, restaurants and office space. However, that project was been put on hold, most likely due to financial reasons rather than issues with planning permission.

    Despite its reputation according to according to Chiang Mai City Life the prison was supposed to be one of the best places to do time in Thailand.

    2. The Explore
    So as mentioned in my previous report, came to Thailand with no specific places in mind having checked 28DL to no avail. There isn’t a massive urbex scene in Thailand to be honest. Managed to find a blog by an expat guy who’d been doing exploring in the country and found out about the prison that way. It’s pretty easy to locate but didn’t have any access info. Did a circuit of the place admiring all the graff on the walls and having gone all the way round and even getting up one of the four corner towers was none the wiser on how to get in. Then a tuk-tuk driver seeing me looking a bit lost pointed out how to get in. The wall by the north-west tower had been breached and the whole barricaded with rubbish so after a bit of a squeeze I was in. And what a sight greeted me. Nothing had prepared me for the amount of undergrowth inside the four walls. There were very few well-trodden paths and I was reticent to trample over the undergrowth due to snakes. After a bit of toing and throwing I managed to make it to the cafeteria hall. Then with more searching found a track to the main entrance building. Next up was getting into one of the cellblocks. There were two large ones and three small ones. Again, after a bit of going around in circles, I managed to get to the large block near the fountain. Having explored that I thought I’d quit while I was ahead so navigated my way back to the breach in the wall, emerging to be greeted by much hilarity from the tuk-tuk drivers.

    3. The Pictures

    My circuit started (and finished) here:

    Chiangmai Womens prison 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Chiangmai Womens prison 23 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The quality of the graph this side is fab:

    img2662 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2603 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2604 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2605 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2607 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Chiangmai Womens prison 24 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The north-east watchtower:

    Chiangmai Womens prison 25 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2609 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The main gate is on the south side:

    img2610 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2611 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The south-west tower looked promising:

    img2614 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Got to the top but there was no way in from here:

    img2615 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2616 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    But then back round to my start point and I was in:

    img2619 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2620 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    First stop the food hall. Buddha would have sat here:

    Chiangmai Womens prison 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    But this place was very far from nirvana:
    Chiangmai Womens prison 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Then it was past the fountain:

    img2626 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And on to the main entrance:

    img2657 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2627 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Chiangmai Womens prison 11 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Chiangmai Womens prison 26 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2628 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2629 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2630 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Chiangmai Womens prison 09 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Chiangmai Womens prison 10 by HughieDW, on Flickr



    img2635 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And up-stairs:

    img2631 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Apparently with was the Governors’ quarters:

    Chiangmai Womens prison 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2634 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Then it was on to one of the large prison blocks. It was a bit of a struggle getting in:

    img2659 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Chiangmai Womens prison 21 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The downstairs was grim:

    img2643 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Chiangmai Womens prison 12 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    This must have been the ‘naughty cell’:

    img2644 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Prisoner details board:

    img2645 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The obligatory picture of the now deceased King still hangs on the wall:

    img2647 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Alfresco toilet facilities:

    img2648 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Chiangmai Womens prison 13 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Chiangmai Womens prison 15 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Chiangmai Womens prison 16 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Up-stairs at least was a little lighter:

    Chiangmai Womens prison 17 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Chiangmai Womens prison 20 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2653bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

    View across the courtyard to the sister block:

    Chiangmai Womens prison 19 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And northwards to one of the three smaller cellblocks:

    img2652 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Finally, over the food hall:

    img2654 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And another shot of that fountain:

    img2655 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img2660 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And finally, this is a photo taken by Mark and Kirsty Bennetts just over a year ago (in July 2018) that shows you just how much the vegetation has taken over the prison recently:

    (c) Mark and Kirsty Bennetts by HughieDW, on Flickr

  2. Thanks given by: etc100, Hugh Jorgan, rockfordstone, Sausage, smiler, theartist
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  4. #2
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    That's a little different. Reminds me of a TV show called Tenko.
    When the going gets tough - the tough get going.

  5. Thanks given by: HughieD
  6. #3
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  7. #4
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    Interesting report and great pics, the graffiti is a bit good, loved it, Thanks
    Smiler
    😁

  8. Thanks given by: HughieD

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