From relatively verdent and natural surrounds, the Mae Chang River valley, with no major towns nearby, is surprisingly industrious, and a bit of a pity to be honest.
Firstly, it has a 2,400 MW lignite-fuelled power plant – the largest in Southeast Asia – stemming off the adjacent lignite mine. Lignite is dirty stuff to burn – half way between bituminous coal and peat. Residents have successully sued the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand for the health effects it has caused, but we will all suffer from the millions of tonnes of CO2 it releases each year.
Then there’s 4 man-made reservoirs created from daming the rivers. There’s one big one – the Mae Chang reservoir – a bit off to the north, which actually flooded a perfectly good village including an ancient temple. This reservoir actually dried up recently due to a severe drought, and you could once again walk around the town’s ruins in a dried and cracked up lake bed.
To add insult to injury, they managed to squeeze in a positively massive cement factory attached to the nearby limestone mines.
Thailand needs electricity, and cement, this place is a bit of an eyesore.