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Tourist Factories

Dear Faithful Reader,

Sometime yesterday or the day before I sent out a message asking for anyone interested in more of my ponderous messages to let me know. You are either one of the few that responded or someone I am just "sure" wanted to continue having their email box stuffed with Thailand.

So please pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for being one of a small elite group with the ability to endure all this codswallop.

When we left off last time we were concluding our visit to the Akha Hill Tribe village. We then retraced our steps and our boat ride back to the tour bus where we headed for Chiang Mai, the final destination of our tour.

On the outskirts of Chiang Mai we were taken to an umbrella factory, a jade factory, a "fine" ceramics factory and an orchid farm. I imagine that our tour company was paid to bring its bus loads of tourists to these places, but I have to admit that most of them were interesting - even for Sueann and Jeffrey, major non-shoppers.

In the photo below, Pensii, our tour guide explains how the umbrella paper is made.


Paper umbrellas drying in the sun:


There was a group of artists at the umbrella factory who for a small fee ("what ever you want to pay") would paint a design of your choosing on your clothing, handbag, cellphone case, camera case or whatever you wanted decorated. The artist below is painting a dragon on a handbag recently purchased by a woman in our tour group. The result was superb.


The orchid farm was to me a rather strange deal. It made jewelry (e.g. pins, etc.) from orchids that were dipped in some kind of acrylic mixture and outlined in gold. I'm sorry I don't have a photo of one of these trinkets. To me they looked like poor cartoon-like imitations of orchids. However, some tourists were forking over considerable sums to buy these things.

Some of the live orchids were truly lovely:

In the photo below I believe I look like someone who is not completely well. Soon I will find out how true that is.


The lobby of our hotel, The Chiang Mai Plaza, was like a fine museum. Here is what greeted us when we checked in.


By the time we settled into our room it was already after 6PM, the time when Chiang Mai's famous night market begins to awaken. The market was quite near our hotel so we walked over and had our first massage in Thailand. We paid 300 baht ($8.40) for an hour's massage for the two of us. You probably know that massage is an important art in Thailand. It is an ancient traditional art which today is studied at temples and universities.

During our hour, most of the time was spent on our feet and a little on our heads and shoulders. By the time the hour was up my feet were humming. They had never felt so good. I was sure that this feeling would last for days. So I was surprised when the next day, my feet felt like ... well ... they felt like my feet.

Next time we visit the elephant camp and end the tour.

Jeff February 5, 2007

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