Teak of the town | Bangkok Post: learning


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Teak of the town

Khum Wichai Racha.

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Read the following story by Pongpet Mekloy from the Bangkok Post. Then, answer the questions that follow.

A century ago, logging was the economic mainstay of Phrae. These days, its legacy lives on in the town's culture and architecture.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But sometimes even a thousand pictures aren’t enough. Looking at photographs of Phrae's old town will give you an idea of its beauty. But there’s much more to it than that. Each house tells a story of the history of the town and even the kingdom.

When I visited the city recently, I took the opportunity to explore Phrae’s old town by bicycle. My guide, Teerawut Klomlaew, runs the Gingerbread House Gallery, a bed and breakfast converted from an old wooden house on Charoen Muang Road, once a bustling business district. These days it is lined with shop houses, some of which date back to the early 20th century when teak logging was a major industry.


In fact, Phrae's history stretches back much further. Officially founded in 1371, there is evidence for settlement long before that. Phra That Cho Hae, the province's most revered pagoda, was built between 1336 and 1338. Wat Luang and the city walls are thought to be much older, with some evidence suggesting they date back as far as 1,200 years.

More recently, Phrae was the setting for the Ngiao rebellion in 1902. This was the result of growing resentment in the area due to high taxation and a loss of power to Bangkok. Eventually this boiled over into a rebellion led by the Ngiao ethnic group from Shan State, which was under British control, in July 1902.

Bangkok managed to crush the rebellion and Chao Piriyatheppawong, Phrae's last ruler, was exiled to Luang Prabang, which was under French control. The logging business in Phrae, previously overseen by local elites, was handed over to Western concessionaires such as the Bombay Burma Trading Corporation and the East Asiatic Company.


The booming timber industry after 1902 led to major economic growth, attracting banks and other businesses. Many beautiful teak houses were built during this period in a variety of styles, from the gingerbread mansions of the elites to the traditional northern design of the common people.

During our leisurely ride through the town, Teerawut led me to many fascinating architectural sites. My favourite was Khum Wichai Racha on its namesake road. The grand teak mansion originally belonged to Phra Wichai Racha, former treasurer of Phrae.

During World War II, his son Chao Wong Saensiriphan, Phrae's first member of parliament, was also a leader of the Phrae chapter of the Free Thai Movement, which worked against the Japanese army. Teerawut showed me a room that was used to store weapons and ammunition for the Free Thai members.

During our ride, we met many interesting people — writers, vendors, silversmiths, monks and more. Everybody had a story to tell.

Section 1

Read through the story and answer the following multiple-choice questions. 

1. What is the article about? 

a. A northern town.

b. The Ngiao rebellion.

c. The history of teak architecture.

2. When was Phrae founded?

a. 1371.

b. Between 1336 and 1338. 

c. 1,200 years ago. 

3. Which of the following was a cause of the Ngiao rebellion, according to the article?

a. Higher taxation.

b. A loss of control over logging.

c. Both a and b are correct.

4. Who gained control of the logging industry after the rebellion?

a. Local elites.

b. Foreign organisations.

c. Banks.

5. Before the rebellion, who controlled Phrae? 

a. Britain. 

b. France.

c. Thailand.

6. Which of the following statements is TRUE, according to the article?

a. Phra Wichai Racha fought against the Japanese. 

b. Chao Wong Saensiriphan was a politician.

c. Khum Wichai Racha is the oldest house in Phrae. 


7. Which of the following statements is NOT true, according to the article? 

a. The writer toured the town on a bicycle.

b. The writer met many different people on the tour.

c. The writer toured the town by himself.

Section 2

Match each of the following words used in the story with the correct definitions from the choices given.

8. mainstay


9. bustling


10. resentment


11. exile


12. concessionaire


13. chapter


a. full of people moving about in a busy way

b. a local branch of a society, club or organisation

c. a person or a business that has been given official permission to sell something

d. to force somebody to leave their country, especially for political reasons or as a punishment

e. a person or thing that is the most important part of something and enables it to exist or be successful

f. a feeling of anger or unhappiness about something that you think is unfair

Section 3

Read the following passage. Then, fill in the blanks with the correct words from the choices given.

A picture may paint ….14…… thousand words. Still, ….15…… won't reveal everything. ….16…… , reading a thousand words ….17……  nothing compared to the actual experience. Go see Phrae ….18……  yourself before it becomes too popular. Who knows what changes time ….19……  bring?


a. the

b. a

c. an


a. it

b. you

c. them


a. Likely

b. Likewise

c. Likened


a. are

b. am

c. is


a. with

b. on

c. for


a. does

b. would

c. will

Section 4

Write down the noun forms of the following words used in the story in the space given. 

20. economic


21. converted


22. revered


23. common


24. originally



Section 1

1. a. 

2. a.

3. a.

4. b.

5. c.

6. b. 

7. c.

Section 2

8. e. 

9. a. 

10. f. 

11. d. 

12. c. 

13. b. 

Section 3

14. b.

15. a.

16. b.

17. c.

18. c.

19. c.

Section 4

20. Economy.

21. Conversion. 

22. Reverence. 

23. Commonality. 

24. Origin/original. 


21-24: Excellent!

17-20: Good.

13-16: Fair.

12 or fewer: You'll do better next time!

Learn from listening

Click "play" to listen to Teak of the town and "Download" to keep this file for educational purpose.


boil over : (phrasal v) to change into something more dangerous or violent -

booming : suddenly increasing in trade and economic activity - เฟื่องฟู

crush : to completely defeat someone who is opposing you - ทำลาย

legacy : something that someone has achieved that continues to exists after they stop working or die - สิ่งที่สืบทอด

logging : the work of cutting down trees for wood - อาชีพการตัดไม้

namesake : a person or thing that has the same name as somebody/something else -

overseen : when people watched or organised a job or an activity to make certain that it was being done correctly - คุมงาน,ควบคุม

pagoda : a temple in S or E Asia in the form of a tall tower with several levels - เจดีย์

rebellion : an attempt to remove a government or leader by force - การก่อการกบถ


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