The Theresa Teng Afternoon Tea Experience

Roaming the areas around the earlier so vibrant Night Market of Chiang Mai at Chang Klang Road and surroundings is a rather depressing sight at the moment. The pandemic made the whole area come to a standstill and hotels so reliant on tourists in the area are empty or closed. Some hotels are trying to survive from their buffet arrangements on weekends or from selling croissants with all kinds of exotic stuffing.

One hotel with a great track record is the Imperial Mae Ping hotel. Now closed, hopefully just for the renovation they announced, perfectly situated just a few minutes walk from the market on Sridonchai Rd. The hotel has been receiving guests since 1986. This is one of these hotels where there is a solid hotel culture in the walls. Even though there are fancier or more modern hotels around, you always know what you are going to get here and the service would be flawless. This is also the hotel where Taiwanese born singer Theresa Teng(邓丽君; pinyin: Dèng Lìjūn) would come to let herself be inspired and write new songs. She would stay in a suite with perfect views of the Doi Suthep mountain, and the hotel preserved her room like a museum.

Theresa Teng (Deng) suffering from heavy asthma had an attack in this hotel and unfortunately, she couldn’t make it. So she passed away in the Chiang Mai Ram hospital.

A few years ago, we went to inspect this suite for Chinese tour groups that we would host. The hotel started a program they called the Theresa Deng Afternoon Tea experience.

A short introduction to her life, a visit to the suite, some of the story about the tragic day when she passed. And followed by afternoon tea in the lobby bar. This has been a major attraction for many Chinese visitors to Chiang Mai.

High Afternoon Tea at Imperial hotel Chiang Mai
Many delicacies on the table for the afternoon tea

From my years of working in China/Taiwan, I have come to comprehend her popularity and position in peoples life. Her success wasn’t limited to China either, she became grand in Japan singing in Japanese. She was also a superstar in countries like Thailand and Indonesia.

The Theresa Teng Suite in Imperial hotel Chiang Mai

My local guides in Taiwan used to say that Taiwan would smuggle tapes of recordings with Theresa Deng to the mainland as a kind of propaganda for a more free and fair life. In China I often heard the expression saying something about her popularity:

Deng Xiapoing rules in the day and Theresa Deng rules in the night.

邓小平执政于白天,邓丽君掌权于夜晚。

When she passed away she even earned state honours for her funeral in Taiwan. Normally reserved for presidents and high statesmen.

I have been on so many tours in Taiwan where the selected music in the bus during long drives would be Theresa Deng, and I had local guides in both China and Taiwan wanting to sing a farewell song for clients, often their version of The Moon represents my heart. It has been called one of the most beloved Chinese love songs of all time.

It is hard to say if the Theresa Teng theme will return, but before all the Chinese tourism closed down you could see the sign at other places in Chiang Mai like in Mae Hia about a Theresa Deng experience.

The Tian Mi Mi mega-hit is as some commentary concluded on YouTube a song with a rhythm that transcends all cultures in Asia. This song was translated into many languages including Thai. Therese Deng referred to as Asia’s Eternal Queen of pop, extremely popular in the 1970 and 1980s.

She was 42 years old when she passed away on her vacation in Chiang Mai on May the 8th 1995.

Footage from the funeral of May 28th 1995.

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