Wednesday, January 13, 2010

THE RUBBER TRIANGLE, CONDOMS AND CABBAGES

We travel this morning from Chiang Rai To Chiang Mai, the major city of the north. Its the cultural, religious and crafts center of the Northern Provinces and a favorite place for visitors. Our first stop is what we nicknamed the Candy Palace above. It is a temple built by a rich artist who decided on white rather than gold for his temple, though there is a lot of gold bling about the place as well.
The multiple rooves show the add ons as the place got bigger and more elaborate.
Macabre sculpture lines the walkway to the entrance bridge.

A beautiful setting for a drinking fountain.
This was the only restroom in which we had to remove our shoes. They provided little cloth slippers for us to wear. Not exactly sanitary.
The women's above, the cleanest most beautiful in all Thailand, so beautiful in fact, the artist/owner closed it and built alternative restrooms.

The gents had to have that gold carved ceiling decoration. It is a choice in how you spend your money, and beauty is always appreciated if not practical.

Our next stop was the restaurant, Condoms and Cabbages. Its a bit tricky to understand, but this man known as the Condom King believed so strongly in safe sex and promoting and educating Thais about safe sex, he opened a restaurant with a shop that sells condoms. He uses humor to help people over embarrassment. In front of his place is a shaded kiosk that has diagrammed the human life cycle and how a condom prevents unwanted births and protects against disease.
In his gift shop you can find t-shirts with safe sex messages, flower bouquets made with condoms, figures, a swan, a life-sized female figure and Santa Claus. Hey, whatever works.

On the road we saw this farmer resting and attending his water buffalo.
We stopped for lunch at this beautiful complex for their specialty, phad tai. The cook below is beginning a new batch.
You can rent a flowered bicycle powered rickshaw to visit the area.

Flat Stanley enjoyed a ride on a dragon.
After lunch we learned how silk was made.

It is hard to see that the tray above is full of silk worms munching on mulberry leaves. When they finally roll up into a cocoon, they have covered themselves in the precious fiber known as silk.
The cocoons are heated, which kills the moth and allows the worker to remove the fibers and gather it into a bundle.
The bundles of silk thread is dyed beautiful colors and wound onto a spindle for weaving.
This woman is working on a tapestry that will take 9 months to finish. Intense work. Notice her feet pump the weft to allow the shuttle to pass through.
We visited a gem merchant who sells exquisite jewelry. We learned about the process of recognizing gems from the outside, before they are polished. They specialize in sapphires but have rubies, diamonds, jade, garnets and other stones. Lovely stuff.
We check into the hotel and some of our party went to the night bazaar after dinner where everything in Thailand is available for sale.

1 comment:

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