Our first day in Chiang Mai
is a touristy commercial one. We visit the crafts of the region, but we visit mainly the shops. Our first stop is worlds largest (and certified) jewelery: Gems Gallery. We start our tour with a short introduction film that told some more about different materials and stones, and there meaning. It isn't that spectacular but I managed not to fall asleep, unlike some others. Than we move on to the atelier were we watch different jewels being made. What strikes me most is how well these guides speak Flemish! Apparently there are guides here for every possible language, even for Dutch. This is really remarkable, and these women aren't just repeating the same five sentences over and over, they actually understand what we say and are able to give proper replies.
It must have taken them ages to learn our language!
But anyway, the atelier is nice to walk around in for a while. I must say I admire the people who do this work, because it looks pretty boring and tedious, but at the same time very precise and demanding. I don't think one wants to mess up one of those valuable stones, not even on a hazy Monday morning...
Now the shop itself is something else. It is big, no doubt, and full of bling bling. Everything here is shiny and luxurious, and expensive. There are however, some cheaper jewels too. I've been thinking of buying a ring but then again it is stupid to walk around with a stone at your finger when you're not engaged or married. Instead, I bought myself a little hanger in jade, carved in the form of an elephant.
I was looking for a little Buddha first, and found it, then saw the elephants who are totally cute. So then I stood at the counter for ages doubting which one I should take, with a friendly but somewhat annoying lady shattering sales-talk into my ear. Turns out she did a good job as I bought both the elephant and the Buddha in the end... I'm going to be soooo lucky from now on, as jade stands for health and the elephant for happiness, what on earth can go wrong now ha?
It is a striking view. All men are in the bus pretty quick, but the women... They all enter at least 30 minutes later, some over an hour, and they are all carrying bags. It must be true what they say about diamonds I guess :) Yet I've made myself some cheaper friends though. I'm not on the budget to spend some 4.
000 EUR on a bracelet today.
Up next is the silk village, where we learn some more about the production and after, of course, end up in the shop. I can't help buying things today, so I brought home a little pink silk elephant hanger. Don't know why. I was walking in the shop thinking that non of the items was really worth buying, but then I saw the elephant and it was sooo cute. So I made up the most ridiculous excuse and bought it for my camerabag. Well, I got to thank him for having been such a good bag during this trip so far no? He is always by my side without complaining, keeping my stuff save and sheltered :)
The last stop is a parasol atelier. We get a short explanation about how these are made, and then get free time to "look around". That means to pay money on souvenirs again.
You can have any object decorated with a little painting here, from clothes over purses to mobile phones and camcorders. The people who make the drawings do it in just a few minutes and I must say, their works are little pieces of art. It is done very nice and very precisely, and doesn't cost that much. I haven't payed for one but many other people did. It takes the paintings about 20 minutes to dry, so after all the objects need to be placed in the sun for a while.
I don't feel like strolling around the souvenir shop so I place myself on the doorstep outside to watch the parasols and the people in the atelier. Some Thai guy is talking to our guide about all kinds of crazy things, and when he notices me overhearing the conversation he starts making predictions for my future.
For a second I wonder if he is going to ask money when he's done, but really just for a second. After two seconds I'm completely convinced that he is serious and just wants to share his opinion on my future private life. Not that I believe in such predictions or visionaries and stuff, but still... I sure want to hear what he's got to say. So he asks my age where I'm working. So I tell him I work in an office, which apparently pisses him of a bit because he gets frustrated. "No no nooo!" He raises his voice. "Don't work in an office!". Then he shuts up for a few seconds gazing at something behind my back and continues: "Two years from now, I tell you, you will quite your job in the office." I look at him amazed. "Yes! Do you like the job in the office?" I don't want to play his cards so I tell him yes, though I must admit secretly that I have thought a thousand times, I'll do this job for some years but definitely not for the rest of my life.
"No. You will quit the job to do something more for you. Something you!" He points at me and I again look at him dazed. "You do something different. Painting, writing, acting, making something. Something more soul." He can't speak English that well, but I get his point. I'll be doing something creative alright. "Your hart" he continuous "is not in the office. In two years, you will find where your hart is". I feel some love-bound predictions coming up next, and I'm really curious to hear about those. I am by no means planning on any relationship, so if this guy is making things up he'll probably predict the opposite no? Something more 'cliché', that works for most people. Well it won't work for me, I don't want to give up my freedom yet. I look at the guy questioning, to make him continue, although I'm sure he'd continue anyway.
He's on a roll and if I'd walk of he'd probably even follow me. "In two years also, someone is going to come to you. Tells you he likes you. A good man will tell you. A good friend." He pauses and looks at me with a blank expression, than screws up his face and waves his arms "but you won't say yes yet! You MUST tell to the boy it is to early. IT IS TOO EARLY! Walk away, yes?" He looks at me waiting for an answer, as if he wants me too confirm I'll take his advice, so I nod. "You will find a new life at uh, around 32 years yes?" Again he pauses, asking for confirmation. Like I know if I will... But I nod again. "32, new life, new job and a house! Yes, a new place to live with a family, and everything will have settled" he says, now again peacefully. "First find your hart, then be patient.
At 32, life will fall into place". He gets up and walks off, than changes his mind, turns back and says: "And be careful when going to sleep! Don't go to sleep with wet hair. No no! No wet hair when you go to sleep. You will get really sick!". He points at my hair and then turns around, to mark the end of the conversation. Few minutes later he's gone.
I don't know what to think of what he said. But I've written it down anyway, just to read it back in 30 years and to see if he was right. About the wet hair, well, I got a quite serious ear ache and cold just a week before I left to Thailand. And I got it from going to bed with wet hair. No kidding...
I've been thinking about quiting my job on the busride to the hotel, then get ready for diner. We go to some sort of Kantoke dinner tonight, but it isn't that good.
The dances are nicer than in Bangkok
, but the food is horrible. And frankly, after a touristy day like we just had, another touristy dinnershow isn't hight on my list of favorite things to do.
Shania Twain - Ka-Ching