Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Our First Full Day in Chiang Mai

Arts & Handicrafts Tour
As part of our tour package, we chose to tour the tourist industries in Chiang Mai. Our first stop was Jolie Femme, a silk factory where we learned how much time it takes to weave the more elaborate silk brocades and how much the typical weaver makes in a month. Then, we had the opportunity to view and buy products made from silk.

Our next stop was the Gemstone Showroom which achieved ISO 9001 status. I turned to Gregg and told him I didn’t know artistic endeavors could aspire to this award. You learn something new everyday.

We visited a teak wood furniture store where Gregg searched for an elusive wood carving to hang on our wall. He couldn't find anything that fit his ideas and our budget. They had some exquisite pieces there, but we had just purchased a teak outdoor set from Bali. After that, we went to a rug showroom but there wasn’t much that caught our attention. Our last stop was the umbrella factory, Bor Sang. We were intrigued with the artistic abilities of the painters there and Drew had an artist paint a design on his shorts.

We came back home to eat lunch at Duke's.

Gregg was tired and the kids just wanted some downtime with their Nintendo’s, so I hired a tuk tuk and walked around Sbun Nga Textile Museum at Old Chiang Mai Cultural Arts Center. They didn’t allow photos so I spent over 500 baht on postcards and brochures depicting the historical costumes.

This was the only mix-up in our entire schedule. We waited from 1910 till 1940 for our driver who never showed. We hired a tuk tuk to take us to Old Chiang Mai Cultural Arts Center where we were so late we were shoved into a corner far from the stage. Fortunately, our friends were seated close to the stage so once we finished eating, we moved to their table. We couldn’t believe there were people who left in the middle of the dance program, but they did. So we snagged their seats on the floor (along with their pillows) for a real up-close-and-personal view of the dancers. Anna and Drew got into the spirit of the show by dressing in their Hill Tribe costumes (which we later discovered were representative of the Akha tribe).

The dance program consisted of two parts: the first part took place in the center stage where they did the “fingernail dance,” the sword dance, and the circle dance (where participants were recruited from the audience). The second part took place outside. The Hill Tribes were actual hill tribesmen (and women), not city people. We enjoyed it all and caught a lift back with our friends.