Two weeks ago we left the city. Yes, with its conveniences, entertainment, cultural attractions, social opportunities, modernity, traffic, pollution, density and noise. My beloved Sara arrived. After a week in a hotel room/apartment, negotiating her transition to an unfamiliar culture 14 time zones away, we have moved to the ‘country.’ Even if it’s only 12 km from the centre of Chiangmai, it certainly feels rural, just a half km from the main road, we are in the middle of rice paddy.
In some ways it’s not really so different from the city. It’s quieter, less dense, a spacious property; quite gorgeous, also with a beautiful pool. But not far away from a commercial district that doesn’t look much like a “village” at all. With commercial services, a large food court, large market for fresh fruits and vegetables, not to mention a large variety of prepared foods freshly packaged and jaw-droppingly cheap, plus a reasonably good super market, the convenience is welcome.
The Bo Sang area where we are staying is also a handicraft center. One of the main products is hand painted umbrellas, along with wooden housewares, baskets, rattan and fine hardwood furniture. There is a large variety of arts here and a good deal of it is exported.
Saturday afternoon, we ventured further east to the actual village of San Khampaeng for their weekly “walking street.” We got there a bit early, before the street was closed and stalls had been fully erected. So we strolled into a makeshift massage vendor for the best foot massage yet.
By the time we were done, the street was in full-blown “walking” mode, with vendors lining both sides and the middle. It was as if everyone on the village was selling something and crowds of browsers were coming from every surrounding town. By the time we left, it was jammed.
The ethnic wear was more apparent here than in Chiangmai shops. Not formal wear or museum quality, but definitely suitable as gifts or for general use. The variety and quality were very good. The feel of this small town was very friendly, very local, authentically and abundantly sweet.
Saturday was the King’s birthday. There were special events everywhere. Fireworks. And of course, at 6pm every day, wherever you are, everything stops to honour the king with the national anthem.