Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2014, Day 308 - Barter

Today, our first full day in Thailand, was not especially exciting.  When we got in to Chiang Mai last night we got settled into our rooms, went out to get dinner, came back, got cleaned up, and went to bed.  It was early but we were exhausted.  Consequently we got up similarly early; we gave up trying to sleep at about four o'clock in the morning but, in fairness, that was after getting eight hours of sleep.

So we spent the early morning doing a little research and planning out the rest of our time in Thailand.  When our plans had more-or-less taken shape we decided to go out in search of food and caffeine.  There was a place close by that came highly recommended but they didn't open for a while but a nice gentleman pointed up to another establishment and suggested we go to the market afterwards.

The food at the little cafe was excellent and we did indeed head to the market.  I love markets, they are the bustling hub of local life and I really like the idea of eating only fresh foods, produce that is immediately ripe and recently harvested, and animals that have been locally raise, treated well, and honored in the lack of waste.  We didn't buy anything which I rather regret because it would be nice to have a bunch of bananas back in our room.

Our market exploration completed, we decided to head back to our hotel to actually put our plans into action and make what arrangements we could.  On the way I pointed out the street famous for all their silver smiths and it was instantly decided that we should take a look.  What followed was a couple hours of popping in and out of various places looking for the pieces that were just right.  Our strategy was to find what we liked going one way and make our purchases on the return.

As it turned out we switched back the way we came after visiting Wat Srisuphan, the famous Silver Temple.  Originally constructed in the 16th century the Silver Temple is not actually silver but aluminum with silver panels.  Unfortunately women are not allowed to enter the temple so I had to go in alone and take pictures to share.  The silver panels are impressively detailed while the interior is not significantly different from most other temples.  In addition to the temple the grounds also house a silver smithing school and meditation classes.

When we finished at the temple we made our way back down the road stopping every block to buy a piece of jewelry here and another there.  In the end a number of bargains were struck and I think everyone felt as though they came out on top.

By this time we had been wandering for a while and the light breakfast we had at the cafe was a distant memory so we thought to find food on the way back to the hotel.  Eventually we settled on and Indian/Thai place and had a reasonable lunch albeit with somewhat slow service.

When we finally made it back to the hotel we stopped off at the front desk to make reservations for the next few days.  Full of pride in our own productivity it was decided that we should at least treat ourselves to a foot massage.  How can you not for less than seven dollars for an hour?  I struggled to stay away throughout.

Feeling refreshed we decided to take an hour break at the hotel and then we would head out in search of dinner and the Loi Krathong festivities.  It was suggested that the best place to see the celebrations would be by the river so we opted to take a cab to the Night Market knowing that we would be able to find food in that area.  As it turned out we had an excellent eight course Thai dinner in the Night Market.

When we finished eating it had started to rain in earnest.  It was coming down so hard that it wasn't a patter on the corrugated steel roof but a constant droning.  Although we expected it would dampen the celebrations we still slowly made our way to the river.  As suspected there were plenty of vendors and few other people.  The rain hard washed out the festivities.  So we made our offerings and decided to come back for an early-ish night.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 56/f1.2R
56mm, f2, 1/340 sec @ 200 ISO

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