We 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.