Day 3 extra: les voyages forment la jeunesse

On Day 3, Pati and BeeBee were walking through a shop with artisans who would hand paint small images onto phone cases, purses, whatever you had with you. Above a beautiful large painting of a Thai countryside, hanging on the wall, was a simple sign in script:

les voyages forment la jeunesse

BeeBee’s French is not as good as it could be, although she recognized the words for “travel” and “youth.” The guide had taken French in high school, a long time ago, so she also could not translate. She asked the ladies in the shop what the sign said. None of them knew.

Back at the hotel, BeeBee searched the internet for the answer and found the idiom:

Travel broadens the mind.

It certainly does.

Day 3: Chiang Mai – Doi Suthep Temple & Meo Hill tribe Village -Sankhampang – Kantoke Dinner

This morning, Pati and BeeBee got up at 6 am to get ready for their first official day of touring.  After breakfast at their hotel, their tour guide, a very pleasant young woman,  picked them up and they drove out of the city and above it on a very steep, narrow and winding road. Their climb took them past one of the residences of the King, who was not there at the time; however, the area was swarming with tourists and their cars, busses, and motorcycles. About a mile beyond the residence, they saw a small red bus, with about 6 passengers still inside, tipped into a ditch. Apparently, the driver had misjudged where the edge of the road was when he backed down a side road to turn the bus around.

The first stop on the tour was to visit the Meo Hill tribe village, where the guide pointed out the various types of items the villagers made for sale as she explained the tribe’s way of life and the improvements to the village that the King had made for their benefit.

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They then drove back the winding road to visit Doi Suthep Temple, one of the most sacred temples in Chiang Mai.  Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep was built in Thai style and contains holy relics of Lord Buddha. The panoramic view of the Chiang Mai, including the airport where Pati and BeeBee landed just before midnight on Sunday, was stunning despite the haze over the city. The guide’s explaination of the temple and of Buddihism in general was quite interesting. BeeBee was especially happy that the steep trip up and down the hill between the carpark and the temple on top could be accomplished by a modern funicular.

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Afterward, they drove to the east side of the city for lunch at a local restaurant. The guide helped them choose dishes and ate with them; over lunch, they had a good discussion on various topics, including the many varieties of spoken English.

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Thai silk fabric looms

They then visited a handicrafts center and watched local people make paper umbrellas, Thai silk cloth, and paper from mulberry tree bark. They also visited a large local market, all under one roof, where the locals can buy just about anything. The guide bought coconut candy, a rose apple, and oranges for Pati and BeeBee to sample.

After that, they returned to the hotel for a break before the evening’s festivities.

At 7:15 pm, they left the hotel to enjoy a Khantoke Dinner, known as the Northern welcome dinner. The guide accompanied Pati and BeeBee to their table and explained the dishes before leaving to wait with the driver in the carpark. The entertainment included traditional hill tribe dancing performed by eight beautifully costumed young women and sword manipulation by two young men.

After the performance, Pati and BeeBee were returned to their hotel for the night.

Day 2 extra: Sparks fly in Chiang Mai, or, don’t hire this electrician

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As described in the Day 2 post, Pati and BeeBee were present at the kiddie fairgrounds in the Night Market periphery when power failed to the ferris wheel and blow-up slide. Pati had hoped to take some night pictures of the lights of the turning ferris wheel, but had just managed to adjust the camera settings when the lights went out.

They decided to wait for a few minutes to see whether the ferris wheel would be restarted. After a few flickering mis-starts, a man with a few tools began to work on the thick power line running along the ground from (somewhere?) to the ferris wheel. Taking a large wire stripping tool, he began to work on the end of the power line nearest the ferris wheel. That appeared to be unsuccessful. A second man began pulling power lines from the merry-go-round to the ferris wheel. No one was riding the merry-go-round, and the ferris wheel was attractive and visible from farther away. Now all the rides were dark and disfunctional. This tactic didn’t work, or perhaps it was a precurser to the next step. The “electrician” then carried a tall stepladder across to a pole carrying a thick bundle of power lines about 12 feet above the ground. Taking the end of the line that he had just stripped and a tool, he climbed the ladder and calmly connected his line to something in the bundle. Meanwhile, a child climbed into the ferris wheel bucket nearest the ground and waited.

A few minutes later, and success! The ferris wheel began to turn. Propping himself and the camera cautiously against a metal pole, Pati got the shots he wanted.

(For the faint-of-heart: the photo above is a time-lapse shot. The buckets and child did not go spinning out into the night.)

Day 2: Chiang Mai – Free at leisure

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Paper Lanterns on the Walking Street, Chaing Mai, Thailand

Day 2 in the itinerary for Pati and BeeBee is described as a full day for relaxing. That means that the tour company has not scheduled anything for the day, because Pati and BeeBee need to recover somewhat from jet lag before concentrating on the important sights.

But they were awake by 7 am anyway. After breakfast at their hotel, they set off walking toward the Old Town and its Walking Street. They learned that traffic rarely stops, even for red lights that announce clearly-marked crosswalks with walk/don’t walk signs, However, they made the walk safely.

The most frequently-seen attractions along their route were temples (at least one per block, it seemed, and all beautiful) and spirit houses. But I exaggerate about the temples. The actual most-frequently seen establishment were massage parlors.

After this jaunt, they returned to their hotel to cool off and have a traditional Thai massage plus foot massage (BeeBee) and Thai herbal hot compress (Pati). After all the various “discounts,” the total cost (not including tip) was $1600 baht (less than $45 USD) for both of them to enjoy two hours of relaxing Thai massage.  About that “relaxing” qualifier: BeeBee is reminded of the old joke “Why do you hit your head against the wall?” “Because it feels so good when I stop.”

Just after 5 pm (when restaurants open again), Pati and BeeBee set off for dinner. They ate at a vegetarian restaurant that gets rave reviews on Trip Advisor. The appetizers were good, but the entrees were disappointing. BeeBee overheard another group ordering, and they seemed to order only appetizers. Lesson learned!

After this, they headed to the night market. The indoor Night Market didn’t seem to have as many shops as would be expected. The shops outside were plentiful and crowded, taking most of the sidewalk space and pushing into the street. Many shops were selling exactly the same items. In addition to the street food vendors, there were several food court areas. One area provided seating on bales of hay, where patrons could sit and listen to a group playing (American) country music. At the back of this area was an country-fair type setup with a shooting gallery and three rides for children: a carousel with figures like Mickey Mouse, a small ferris wheel with each car decorated with a dwarf (from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), and a blow-up slide. As Pati and BeeBee watched, power was lost to the ferris wheel and slide. Luckily, no one was on the ferris wheel and the parent of one of the children on the slide told all the children to get down before it slumped sadly to the ground.

Pati and BeeBee then walked back to their hotel (a 15 minute walk) to get ready for the next day’s adventures.

Days 0 and 1: Traveling to Southeast Asia

 

 

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Days 0 and 1 are travel days for Pati and BeeBee. They got up at 4:30 Saturday morning to catch their 10:10 flight, the first of three on their way to Chiang Mai, Thailand. This blog post is titled “Days” because they did not actually arrive at their destination until Monday morning, a few minutes past midnight. Even considering the time difference between Chiang Mai and home, they still spent more than 25 hours in airports and on airplanes. The first flight to Dubai took 12 hours, leaving one hour late but arriving on time with a good tailwind. The second flight to Bangkok was 6 hours long, and the last leg to Chiang Mai left one hour late but was only one hour long.

The 12 hour flight was not as bad as other long flights they have taken, possibly because Emirates is a better airline. While not looking forward to another six hours in the air, Pati and BeeBee were very pleasantly surprised when the lady checking them in tore up their boarding passes, explaining “you have been upgraded to business class.” They had briefly consider ed the upgrade before leaving, but decided that it was not worth the extra $1600 it would cost them. As they boarded the aircraft with the other privileged passengers, they found themselves directed up a flight of steps to a large spacious area that they had only seen in pictures before. Each row was twice as deep as normal class and had only four seating pods. Their pods were in the center, lacking the windows of the outer pods, but, on comparison to the window pods, were better.  Feeling a little foolish, they took pictures of their pods and the many comforts of each pod (reclining seat!  a snack and beverage bar!) As more passengers arrived, they also posed for pictures of themselves with their pods. Not so silly, then. (They wondered what first class passengers had, because they did not see that area. BeeBee read later that first class  passengers could take a shower in flight.)

As the flight departed, they enjoyed the many privileges of business class and, for once, did not want the flight to end. They even got some sleep.

With all that excitement, they were fortified for the last remaining flight. Arriving an hour late, they were met by their tour guide and driver waiting patiently as they walk out of the airport baggage claim area. They were driven to their hotel, where the guide helped with the check-in process. In their room, just after midnight, they emailed family that they had arrived safely. And so to bed to await the adventures of the day that had already begun.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Lines and Angles

Here are four entries for Cee’s Black & White Lines & Angles Photo Challenge.

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Before the Tasting (Mexican winery)
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La Sagrada Familia Basilica (Barcelona, Spain)
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Clock face, interior of Musée d’Orsay (Paris, France)
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Pillar of La Tour Eiffel (Paris, France)

 

 

Winter Storm Jonas

Optimistic

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Winter Storm Jonas arrived on schedule on Friday afternoon, with tiny snowflakes that continued through Saturday afternoon. The flakes gradually transitioned from vertical to horizontal. When the snow stopped, also on schedule, these tiny flakes had accumulated into a smooth surface about 18 inches higher than the previously-bare ground.

The tiny snowflakes also created tiny hats on our birdhouses, a beauty with no regrets since the houses had no occupants needing shelter from the wind. The bird feeder was also covered with a larger snow hat that would have covered and spoiled any seed that could survive the wind, but, again, no bird was depending on it. As the flakes abated and the sun was visible again, the bird feeder began to shed its snow coat as if in defiance of any future storm. It will be ready for Spring whenever Spring decides to appear.

And then a tiny miracle occurred on Monday. As we looked out the kitchen window, a tiny bird flew to our tiniest birdhouse. He {She?} entered by the tiny door, then flew out again. The mate waited on a nearby branch. We could see tiny sticks inside the birdhouse, which we had cleaned in the Fall. The tiny couple disappeared before we could grab a camera. Maybe they are the pair who have raised a family in the house for the past two years. Or maybe they are the children or grandchildren. I hope so.

I am optimistic.