For some reason, Kim decided not to quit her job and join me for the rest of the trip, so we had to part ways when she went home and I continued north to Chiang Mai. Rest assured, we had many more adventures that I haven’t covered yet but will post in future. 🙂
I arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand on a Sunday night, which can only mean one thing: Night Market!! They take over a bunch of streets in the center of town, make them pedestrian-only, and sell tons of decorations, clothes, and souvenirs- and food! Ah, lights and colors… bliss!
And of course they had lanterns- my favorite. Admit it- you know you want one! I’m rubbing off on you. 🙂 One of the great things about this market is that instead of mass-produced junk, most of the items being sold here are made locally and help sustain the community. So, you can feel good about stocking up and giving in to the urge to accumulate souvenirs (assuming you have space!).
Some crafts are more obviously home-made than others. Some show up at multiple stalls, so you know that it’s a larger business but one that is hopefully still local. And when I say multiple stalls, I need to clarify that this market has become so huge that I wandered it for about five hours and still missed parts of it. It’s really a big community event.
At some stalls, the artisan is actually sitting at the booth and creating while at the market itself. I walked by this display of detailed lacquerware and saw a person seated alongside it, painting more of the bowls! It just doesn’t get more local than that. That’s the kind of market I want to support. Plus, if you cut out the middleman, sometimes prices are a little cheaper. 😉
One of the other nice things about the Chiang Mai market is the local music and dance performances that are featured at a few stages. And there are a few bands, notably of blind singers, who sit in the middle of the road in a row and belt out their all-time hits.
The flipside is that I also saw children standing alone and singing into microphones. Not talented children, either, but cute ones set out by their parents to collect tip money. It’s sad to see kids essentially working to support the family- and so late at night.
But there is a positive thing about the market being held from 5pm- 11pm.
Oddly, you can also get your street/market food and eat at the temples. They set up tables and chairs and food stalls on the temple grounds.
Like the sleeping and mealtimes we saw taking place at the temples back in Yangon, this is clearly a community that believes it doesn’t have to separate its holy places from its daily life… or its fun.