Wondrous Chiang Mai

IMG_0316We have been happy happy happy in Chiang Mai during the three days of Loi Krathong, Thailand’s festival of lights.  Loi Krathong celebrates water spirits with thousands of candle-lit lanterns set off into the skies, candle lit boats of flowers sent down the river, parades, music and fire works.

Thais are such kind, gentle people I actually enjoyed being in the crowded streets and waterfront, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

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Float at the Loi Krathong parade

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Buddhist monks sharing the light

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I got to set off one of my own

Thailand - Floating Lanterns in Chiang Ma

It is hard to describe the peaceful magic of the lanterns

Chiang Mai has wonderful textiles and silver jewelry, which you can find in all kinds of places from tiny stalls at public markets to high end boutiques.  We have looked for textiles made by hill tribes, mostly Hmong (there are many who now live in California). In general, Thailand’s ethnic arts seem to have been “discovered” in recent years by experts and retailers and exporters. We did some major mining in some funky markets hoping to dig up some vintage treasures — and we found some.

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And then I learned that for a piece like this, the polite term is “value” rather than “price.”

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Here I am in a not funky shop considering where I would hang this if I ever have a wall of my own again.

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I bought this instead and I love it.

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Mags is in heaven in the back room of a market stall.

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Chiang Mai is just loaded with textile treasures.

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This young woman at the night market weaves her own silk scarves, which appears to be very unusual in Chiang Mai.

An ancient center of governance for Lanna Kings, Chiang Mai is also home to dozens of Buddhist temples, 35 of which are within the old city.

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Chiang Mai is a special city in other ways.  It is a busy bustling commercial center and full of backpackers and English speaking ex-pats.  Yet it retains its Thai-ness in the way people eat, work, dress, practice Buddhism and enjoy life.

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We haven’t gotten tired of street food at the night markets, which provide an explosion of grilled, steamed, fried and fresh options of all kinds. Thais still eat mostly traditional foods –and how could they not?!

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We gave our marigold offering to this woman selling eggs and lunches on a street in the old city.

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Chiang Mai is also called “The Tiger Kingdom.”

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Chiang Mai has a decidedly hippie fusion component.

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Food stall at the night market. Some of our favorites have been green curries, panang curry, spicy noodle dishes, seafood basil stir fries, and mango with sticky rice.  All amazing!

Tomorrow, lo siento, Mags heads back to Spain and I am taking the train south for more of Thailand’s magic.  I will miss Mags a lot — she helps me see things with different eyes, keeps up the enthusiasm levels, makes me laugh and mixes a mean cocktail.

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Buddhist saying on a tree at Wat Chedi Luang

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Post-party reminders

3 comments

  1. Well, this place sounds like heaven on earth. I REALLY liked the wall hanging you decided NOT to get! Please go back immediately and get it for me!!!

    And give Mags a hug from sunny California!

  2. Of all the friggin emails I get, I just can’t wait to get yours! No matter what, even if I have to set it aside for a later time, I just covet these exceptional dalliances into other worlds. It lifts my heart and spirit and gives me hope that we haven’t obliterated every culture on the planet. Hugs.

  3. What beautiful photos, Kim, you have really captured what is special and different everywhere you go. I had never thought of going to Thailand until I saw your photos and read your descriptions of the lovely people. Thank you!

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