Cheng Chin Yuen

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Loy Kratong Begins with Hot Air Rising

Here are some pics from last night's Loy Kratong Festival. It's the first of a 3 night affair. Last night, beauties from or representing various sponsor companies were paraded down the main road. Maybe it will be the guys turn tonight eh? The finale will happen tomorrow evening and we hope to catch a glimpse of the major float parade before we head for the airport!

The Thais have been sending hot air paper balloons of all sizes into space over the last couple of nights. It's a pretty sight from street-level, looks like Mars multiplied itself by many times. As these balloons rise they leave a trail of sparks to give that rocket effect. No houses have been set alight yet but I wonder where will all that junk fly to. Certainly not the moon. At 10 to 45 Bhat a balloon, these stratospheric junk comes cheap and more soar overhead as the big day approaches.

We actually passed a small discreet but popular roadside shop selling all sorts of minor ordinace that kids and kiddy adults would buy and send into the sky. They had an amazing array of firepower. Rockets are child's play, try the fist-sized claypot that produceda 3m fountain of gold fire! I asked to take a photo but the friendly lady disapproved politely. Sigh, see what happens when you ask?

Tonight we go check out the massive devotion that is floating down the Ping River.

We just visited the Tribal Museum in Rama 9 Park which is really worth the free entry. It is worth the time. The museum looks like a huge pagoda which occupies a small island in the middle of a HUGE pond. The ground floor is the office and store. The first floor is the main display area, which covers just about everything you would want to know about the Karens, Akhas, Lisu, Hmong, Yao etc tribes in northern Thailand. The Karen I know is particular aggressive when provoked. Lots of good photos, models, textiles and interesting household stuff can be found here. I cannot remember what's on the third floor but the highest floor is devoted to the King's contribution to these hill tribes.

The main challenge is one to assimilate them a little into the modern world by first providing water and electricity. The next big problem is to get them to grow something other than opium. The King is a smart and well-loved man. He cross-bred the western peach with a local variety which they can grow easily and make into a variety of products like dried fruit and spreads which they had no problems selling to a government-linked company. What a success!

Inevitably, life for these folks have changed, they came down from the mountains (where opium grew best at 900m) to be near the feeder roads, began to make touristify* original handicraft and agriculture became sedentary. So no more shifting, slashing and burning...good for the forest and eco-tourism but for their culture? I don't know.

*Touristify usually entails adding a few dashes of bright colour and adding stupid text like 'I love Chiang Mai!' 'Boring' plain designs also had to be spiced up a notch.

Mr Abbot Re-re-visited

Oh ya, one more line from Mr Abbot. This is the last one I promise.

Regarding all religions:
'different paths but to same ending'

So how about Zeros like me? I forgot to ask the venerable one, but I think we would have no ending because we never began.

Almost ending already,

See you soon

Chin Yuen


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