Friday, November 7, 2014

2014, Day 310 - Crafts and consumers

We helped stimulate Thailand's economy today.  This morning we work up early, as per usual, and headed out for breakfast but not before making a stop for coffee.  There was a restaurant we scoped out yesterday but, unfortunately, it wasn't opened early enough to accommodate our plans for the rest of the morning.  Slightly disappointed we headed back to the local vegetarian place and has another great meal for less than a dollar per person.

Bellies full, we returned briefly to our hotel to finish getting ready in preparation for a day out with our driver.  Josh, the name he gave us, was the taxi driver who took us from the airport to our hotel when we arrive.  One the ride he seemed like a nice guy, he spoke English well, and had a sense of humor.  So we had arranged for him to drive us around to explore and do a little shopping.

He started off on the right foot by showing up early and when we showed him the list of places we wanted to visit he nodded at each and off we went.  First we went to Khamtieng Market, the city's plant market.  It was amazing, lots of little shops with all manner of beautiful tropical plants, water lilies, and gardening supplies.  The sheer variety and the riot of color was almost overwhelming.  It made me wish I had a tropical garden to plant but we contented ourselves with admiring all the plants.  Especially impressive were the orchids that came in all manner of shapes, sizes, and colors with prices as low as a dollar per plant.

Next we headed in search of a teak spirit house for Francene so Josh took us to a sprawling teak furniture place.  I will admit that their offerings were impressive, especially some of the furniture, but they didn't have any large spirit houses and while their prices were fair for teak they were still extremely expensive.

Coming up short we decided to go to Francene's tried and true celadon place.  They make all of their pottery on site and have an extensive variety of traditional and contemporary celadon available for purchase.  What's more, they also ship, so that took a huge obstacle from our path.  In the end we all made a purchase or two and we should be seeing them again in two to three months; given the exorbitant cost for air shipping we all felt that we could be patient.

At this point we had been such good consumers that we were getting hungry so Josh took us to his second choice place; the first was closed.  We had a nice lunch and were soon off to see how they make umbrellas from bamboo and paper.  The women working on cutting and shaping the bamboo were rather spectacular; they made it look so easy but it was clear that long experience with those razor sharp blades that our initial impression was completely erroneous.

Next we went to a shop that sold locally produced home decor.  The majority of their large showroom was devoted to rugs.  Originally the owner and his family came from Kashmir almost two decades ago to expand their business and found that they could make better rugs at a lower cost because of the availability of high quality and, relatively, inexpensive Thai silk.  There is something extremely impressive about the was the light shimmers off of a silk rug and the temptation was too much for Melissa who had them unrolling rug upon rug.  I will freely admit I looked at a few myself in the process.

By now it was getting rather late in the afternoon so we stopped to snack on fried pumpkin and decided to make one last stop of a shop renown for their silk.  It was in an really pretty old teak house and while their offering were attractive there was none of the Thai style that you would expect.

At this point Josh had proved himself invaluable and extremely competent.  He had drive us all over the city, found everything without difficulty, and told us silly jokes that made him laugh more than we did.  But it good-natured demeanor won us over and we had a great time.  So, before dropping us back at our hotel, we made plans to have him drive us around again on Sunday and paid him a very reasonable amount for all his time today.

Once we got ourselves refreshed we headed out to dinner.  I suggested a restaurant I had eaten at the last time we were in Chiang Mai.  It was on the other side of town so we caught a ride and ended up having a very nice meal.  In fact we ate so much that none of us was all that thrilled to go out this evening so we headed back to the hotel to rest and relax.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 35/f1.4R
35mm, f1.4, 1/125 sec @ 1000 ISO

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