Day 12 - Poppies/A dinner and a show
Trip Start Dec 17, 2007
30Trip End Feb 14, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
I had signed up on an afternoon tour to the top of the mountain over looking the city. Chiang Mai lies at 200 meters above sea level while the mountain is about 1500 meters. Tours are nice as they pick you up from your hotel, there is a guide and you don't have to worry about anything. We drove for awhile through the heavy traffic of the city and soon arrived at the base of the hill
After the white knuckled ride we arrived at a mountain tribe's village. There are a large number of tribes that have emigrated into Thailand over the years from China, Burma and other countries and have kept their cultures and languages. Many of them grew opium but the government, sorry, the king, have embarked on a series of royal projects to bring development to the tribes with tourism and agriculture programs.
The village was perched on the side of the hill and the largest flat spot was the parking lot which wasn't exactly level. There were shops selling locally made goods and/or made in China stuff to the tourist. After walking through the market, we entered a garden in which many flowers were growing on several terraces covering the hillside. You could wear the local costumes and get your picture taken. They also had a small patch of the opium poppies which are quite beautiful.
After the village, we drove past one of the king's palaces, high on the mountain before we arrived at a temple which is one of famous temples of Northern Thailand
One thing that was interesting to me was that many people were actively worshiping. In Japan, many of the temples and shrines are seen just as a sightseeing place and not as a place of worship (OK, Hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the year but that is just one time a year and is more of a custom than worship). My opinion is that Japan religion is dormant while Buddhism in Thailand is active and is part of people's daily lives.
We headed back down the hill arrived back at the hotel alive. I rested a little and then it was time to go to dinner and a show. Tak and I had signed up for a program that included dinner and traditional Thai dancing. Tak was late so I caught the van to the Thai arts center alone. There was a large hall with a small raised stage and lots of Gaijin sitting on the floor eating and drinking from small tables
A small group of musicians had been playing on the stage and they sound good but they moved behind the stage curtain and the main show started. Six beautifully dressed female dancers cam out and performed the first dance, the fingernail dance in which they danced with long finger nails. The dance movement were slow and graceful. There were several other dances including one with just one guy and a bunch of knives. It was a bit difficult to eat, watch the show and try to take pictures at the same time. Finally, the last dance of the first stage was the candle dance where the lights were dimmed and the girls danced with candles in each hand. Very beautiful and hot.
Then we moved to an outdoor stage to watch the mountain tribes dances. It started with four kids who had to jump over bamboo poles that several other kids where sliding back in forth in pairs on the ground. So the kids would step in an opening and then raise up their foot as the bamboo poles closed and then stop into another hole. I think it was closer to a game than a dance and they needed great timing to avoid getting their ankles hit. It was fun to watch. There were several other dances including a man playing a type of flute and he would roll on the ground while playing the instrument.
All in all, a great evening of good food, good music and a good show. I enjoyed seeing some of the traditional Thai culture.