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Thailand's famed 'Rose of the North' is wilting

Ancient Chiang Mai is suffering from over-development and pollution

A statue of three ancient kings is regarded as the historic heart of Chiang Mai.  At center is King Mangrai who founded the city in 1296. (Photo by Denis D. Gray)

CHIANG MAI -- This 700-year-old city nestled in a green valley of northern Thailand has long enjoyed a story-book reputation for its myriad Buddhist monasteries and charming wooden homes, the delicate manners of its citizens and a tranquillity hardly ruffled by its temple bells.

More than 10 million tourists visited the city and its surroundings in 2018, according to official data, while local expatriate groups estimate that the area has attracted up to 60,000 retirees from various countries.

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