Thailand Day 16

Chang Mai

 7 of us make the brave decision to head to the hills – to see the hill tribes.The road is very steep and very windy. When we arrive at our destination we are pleased not to be moving – only 20 kilometres but takes an hour. Our guide asks how many corners did I count – oh I say I didn’t think to count. How many are there? She laughs and says only 2 – one goes left and one goes right! Got me again!
The air here is lovely and the most unusual shops hug around the hill down alleyways that feel similar to being in a rabbits warren.
The people seem to have a tight knit community with many groups of women and men seen chatting and eating together. The women’s hands never stop as if they are not feeding a baby/child they are creating something. It is quite different here as the clothes and accessories worn by the women are hand made and beautifully designed. They keep the best for themselves and it looks like the tourists get the 2nd rate stuff while the treasured items are kept and passed down. I don’t blame them as we stop to talk to One lady who  was working on a patchwork that had already taken her 1 year with still at least another year to go – definitely not for sale!
We go a little down the hill and come to the Kings winter palace. The gardens are lovely to walk around and as the construction started in 1961 (the year I was born) I take an extra interest in it. There are so many varieties of roses, geraniums, dianthus, dahlias and many other beautiful flowers. We enjoy the fernery and the water features. it is just so nice strolling about in the cooler air. At the end we are rewarded with seeing a giant bamboo plant.
The rest of the trip down does test out my stomach but when we stop for lunch some lemonade and salty French fries from KFC do the trick.
The rest of the afternoon is taken up with seeing shops full of wood carvings and homewares. It leaves me wondering where are the people who make them – sitting somewhere working from dawn til dusk carving out beautiful things for the store owners and probably only earning enough to keep food on the table.
It is nice to be back to have a rest before venturing out at night again. We are a bit puzzled though as wherever you go in Thailand the women dressed as Hill tribe people are selling, amongst other things, the wooden frogs that when you stroke their back make a sound like a croaking frog – we saw none of these in the hills anywhere!

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