Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chiang Mai Pool Report

Did I ever tell you about the time that I looked for pools in Chiang Mai, Thailand?

There are actually a bunch of links that list some (most of the) pools around town. Like here, here, here and here. And if you search for pools the most common one that pops up is the Center of the Universe. Presumably because it's the only one that has a link and it seems the most together. It actually looks pretty nice, but it's one of the more expensive ones (200 baht
[$6USD] per entry with out a membership card and is a bit out of downtown...kind of.

But I never made it to the COTU. So I'll talk about the pools that I did find.

As preface I was really surprised at how many pools there were in Chiang Mai. It is a town 150,00, but nevertheless I held my expectations pretty low.

The pool at the 700 year sports complex was the most impressive pool that I saw. The whole complex was built for the SE Asia Games in the early 90's.

Quite a complex too. It has a big stadium, at least one other pitch for soccer, many tennis courts, a shooting range, a race track for remote control cars and two large gymnasiums for volley ball, badminton, basketball and presumably for Takro Lot Huang (just called Takro(?), a game like volley ball played on a badminton net, with the kicking rules or soccer [no hands]) Images for Takro here, here, here and here.

There is also...get this... a VeloDrome!!! No kidding! When I pulled up to its gate I was pretty blow away and pumped. I hoped I could find people who used it and ride some laps on it. But after talking around (and after looking at it's disrepair) it became pretty aparent that the loop isn't used that often. However, Mr. Vogel told me that there was a coach trying to get a kids cycling program together and they might use the Velodrome.

But back to the pool... 50 meter, 8 lane, outdoor pool. A few diving platforms and two springboards. There are also a couple of lanes across the far end of the diving pool if you don't feel like suffering down 50 meters.
In the same building as the pool there are showers etc and a weight room.
If I remember correctly the fee without a membership is 60 baht. I think a year membership is a few hundred baht.
Here are some pics:
Since it's so warm in Chiang Mai most (all?) of the pools are outdoors and generally uncovered. Such a nice change from swimming in a dark dingy box.

The only other 50 meter pool that I found (I think there are others) was at Chaing Mai University. It's in the middle of the campus and is a shorter ride from down town than the 700 year complex. It was pretty quite there the two times I stopped by. You need to get an ID card from the University. That costs 300 baht, and you'll also need a passport photo. I think you can get it made up at the gymnasium (letter F on the campus map). Then I think there is an additional day fee.
Here are a couple pics:
The pool where I actually spent the most time was at the Physical Eduction University. This pool is covered...so it's semi-open air. And that made it really cold. I was there during the 'cool season' and since none of the pools are heated the cool evenings and lack of sunlight on the pool made for some very chilly water. The pool is here(ish). It's between the stadium and the tennis courts and has a kind of dark blue roof.
There are funny signs when you're coming into the pool that say it's for locals and University members only. But everyone was really friendly to me and more than happy to take my 30 baht entrance fee.

I think that this is the largest lap pool with the closet proximity to the old moat surrounded downtown 'touristy' area.
In the same complex as the pool is a stadium with a track around it, tennis courts (not sure they're open to the public), a funky weight room (30 baht), Takro courts, a shooting range, at least one gymnasium, a quarterpipe and features for bikes/skateboards, a nice looking new indoor sports center with treadmills and stuff, outdoor circuit stations, and a road that goes around the stadium that is packed with people jogging and walking in the evenings. It was amazing to see how many people were out exercising.

The pool is 6 lanes and 25 meters. It was never very busy when I was there in the afternoon. I think it's open like 3:30 to 6 or so. Here are some pics:

The next 25 meter pool that I checked with close proximity to DT was at the Maharaja Hospital complex. You can see the pool here. I'm pretty sure that this pool is open most of the year to visitors. But when I was there it was closed because there was some kind of children's competition going on for like a month. It's three lanes and 25 meters. Sorry no pics. It's also kind of hidden away, but with a little searching you can find it. It's at the western end of the hospital area and has tennis courts around it.

Down in the oddly suburban mini-town of ChiangMaiLand is another clean pool with a pretty cheap entry fee (90 baht?...I can't quite remember). But be weary of going here in the afternoon as I found that there are tons of kids and even though there are lane 'lines'/tiles on the bottom of the pool it usually geared towards the lounging crowd.
Here's a pic:
I did check out the pool at the Anodard Hotel. Here is a picture of the pool. As I recall there are some limited swim times. But it is open to non-hotel guests. The one time that I stopped by to check it out it was swamped with people laying on the deck and playing in the water. Doing laps wasn't really an option. Plus it's like an 18 or 20 meter pool.

I did talk to a cyclist who liked to go to the Chaing Mair Lotus (PSK) Hotel and do laps there. Apparently it's a 48 (or so) meter pool on the top of the building. And it often isn't crowded. He also said that it's better than going to the roof top pool at the Orchid (right next door). But, I can't speak to either one.

In writing this entry I discovered Wikimaps which is an excellent tool to find locations and pools in the area. (Look for the blue patches!)
For example, I had a hard time using a street address to find the PongPot pool. But it's easy to find on Wiki.

Also take a look at the three pools at the schools on the eastern end of town, here.
The Lana sports center also has a pool.

Any way. If you're in Chiang Mai and want to keep your feel for the water alive never fear. There are pools aplenty.
If you want to work on your slighting and open water swimming though the options are pretty limited. You could swim at the reservoir here. I've seen Thai's splashing in the water there. but Personal I'd stay away from any open water source. And with so many great pools in town why bother?

Hope this comes in handy to someone out there.


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