The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

All things mosquito: an hour at Chiang Mai’s incredible World Insects and Natural Wonders Museum

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jun• 03•10

Khun Manop at home in his Insect Museum

Some people have passions for cars, others for art, others for cooking.  Manop Rattanarithikul has one for mosquitoes, and since 2000, he, along with wife Dr. Rampa Rattanarithikul, has hosted his own museum in Chiang Mai, Thailand, largely a tribute to his favorite insect. After ringing the doorbell (it’s always locked, but visitors are welcome), one immediately finds a statement written by “the mosquitoes of Thailand:” 

“The life of human and the mosquito is as short as the burning candle.  The mosquito’s taking blood is necessary for their survival.  No blood is needed for seeking greed and wealth.  This is the difference between the mosquito and civilized people.” 

Manop began collecting natural wonders back in 1950, and here has a fascinating, if slightly disjointed, selection of butterflies, beetles, rocks, walking sticks, hornets’ nests, and seashells, spread over two floors.  Along the way, there are a dozen or so religious platitudes (we wish we’d seen “In God we Trust — all others pay cash”).  Then there are the mosquitoes.  He’s got data on all 420 species, and good information on the 44 of them that carry pathogens dangerous to humans.  He’s got elephantiasis covered well, and enthusiastically explained how the limbs and organs grow large with the dead bodies of the dreaded filariasis worm.  

Manop is a lawyer as well, and his wife’s a noted scholar, on assignment to the Smithsonian Institution.  For 200 baht, this small museum, run by a real fan of an insect we all love to hate, is a bargain, a tribute to the passion of a collector, who has made a museum out of his home.  You may also buy one of his custom t-shirts bearing the image of a large mosquito over the phrase “Get to know them, you will understand.” 

Address:  72 Nimmanhaemin, Soi 13, Sirimangkhlachan Road, Chiang Mai. tel: (053) 211-891.  Located 1 km west of the moat, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse of the rich variation of insect life in Thailand.  Open 9 am – 4 pm, daily, ring the buzzer if the door is locked.  GPS:  N18°47.776  E098°58.233’

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