Chiang Mai is a city of markets but none is more popular than the "walking market" which on Sunday afternoons and evenings takes over several of the main streets and the plaza square at Tai Pae Gate. I started at the square where many of the hill tribes display their wares and where sometimes I meet old friends from the hills. Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet with one of them. A spray old lady, brown and wrinkled as a walnut with a mind like a steel trap. Hidden in her pocket - she just knew I would turn up - were three stone carvings, perfect for pendants. She also had some cream coloured horns carved with Salamanders and three more tigers. She then escorted me around some of the other tables, picking out treasures and bargaining to the teeth. In fact, she bargained so hard with one poor lady that I went back and slipped her another 20 baht.
After sitting at a table drinking freshly squeezed mandarin juice and eating sticky rice and mango I had to take a ride back to my apt., I was so laden down with heavy beads and stuff.
Still, I could not stay in my apt. all evening when this great market was taking place, so after a cup of tea I shuffled off again looking for more treasures. My find of the night was a silver chain belt with 24 lapis lazuli and silver decorations hanging from it. Alas, I did not have 4,500 baht left and the only ATM I could find was out of cash so I am hoping that it will still be there when I go back in two weeks' time.
The other thing I found was some wonderful silk tubes with tasseled lids (wine bottle gift wrap)
I may try and import some into Canada. Need to check out the shipping costs first.
This morning I went to the far corner of the old town, an area I had not visited before, just to see what was there. Found the tribal gift shop run by the social services department. Lovely stuff but mostly weavings. Maybe I will go back before I leave.
Tomorrow I am thinking of going to the Monkey School - where they train monkeys to assist handicapped people. Should be interesting. I Will report in due course
I am not much of a tourist, particularly when it's on an organized bus tour but as the elephant farm was a couple of miles in the bush off the bus route with no tuk-tuk or taxi, I chose a small group tour in a mini-bus and I am glad that I did.
We first went to a small paper-making facility where they make very nice paper out of elephant dung!
Then to see the beasts. They were amazing and performed lots of great tricks, even doing "handstands" and walking upright. They played soccer, had a band, and painted pictures with watercolor. Following this we rode on their backs through the river and through the jungle for about an hour, stopping at tree-high stalls to buy bunches of bananas and cane sticks. The long trunks came searching over their backs, until they located the food, which was then gently taken from us and, curving through the air in a graceful ark, found its target and into their mouths, bananas a whole bunch at a time!
A long lazy bamboo raft rides down the river, then a bumpy ride in an ox cart led to a huge buffet lunch in a lovely building on the river's edge.
Following lunch, we went to the Monkey School which was fun and amusing, the highlight for me being a tiny baby monkey who contentedly sat on my hand and played with my necklace.
The day ended with a visit to the butterfly and orchid farm.
It was a fun day and I can understand why it's one of the main attractions for tourists coming to Chaing Mai.