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(From Bangkok Post)
Byline: Chris Baker
THE GOLD AND SILVER ROAD OF TRADE AND FRIENDSHIP: The McLeod and Richardson Diplomatic Missions to Tai States in 1837 By Volker Grabowsky and Andrew Turton, Chiang Mai, Silkworm Books, 2003. 1,495 baht.
`There is no life in the place; it almost appears deserted; and there is no trade. There is not a single shop in the place. Some old women assemble every day for about an hour, and this constitutes the bazaar; no money is taken; they exchange one thing for another.''
On 13 December 1836, two British officers left Moulmein and headed north. Captain James McLeod branched east across the hills, through Lamphun and Chiang Mai, passed the deserted ruins of Chiang Rai, up to Chiang Tung (Kengtung), and terminated on the banks of the Mekong at Chiang Rung (Jinghong).
Dr David Richardson kept a northerly course up the ridges of the Tanaosri range as far as Muang Nai, before turning west and arriving at Ava in the aftermath of a civil war.
These were extraordinary journeys. The travellers repeatedly tell us they are entering territories never seen by a European. Their …