Wednesday 16 April 2014

Crafty Chiang Mai

We're now up in the north of the Thailand in Chiang Mai. We flew with Bangkok Airways, who's slogan is "fly boutique, feel unique"! And we did - it was only an hour's flight and we got fed! Needless to say, Jus was very happy!
We are staying at the Maninarakorn Hotel, which after changing rooms to the more modern part of the building which was on their website (!) we are now happy, though the noisy air-con is starting to drive me up the wall.
Anyway, on our first full day here, now Songkran is over and we can walk the streets without getting drenched, we had a wander into the centre of town, and found it much nicer and calmer than Bangkok, even though it is the country's second city. It is much greener in the north which make a difference, the small roads within the city walls are lined with enticing restaurants, beautiful temples and cool looking bars.
This afternoon we went on a tour of the "home industries" - small local factories where they make and sell handicrafts to the public. We popped into one of the many independent tour operators and arranged for a taxi to take us around, he waited for us at each place and then brought us back, the tour was about 3hrs - all for the bargain price of 300baht - £6.00!
We started at a teak factory and saw some absolutely beautiful carvings and furniture. We also saw a couple of the amazing craftsman at work.
Teak has been taken under the Forest Stewardship Council which offers certification of sustainably grown and harvested teak products. Our friendly driver explained that once Thailand's old teak was gone, they would not be able to use their own teak for another 20 years when the new plantations had matured.
We then went onto ceramic, leather, silver, jewellery, and paper umbrella factories, plus the Thai Silk Factory.... Ahhhh fabric :)
I have always wanted a loom, they just look so methodical and therapeutic to use, once the two thousand threads are set up! And they create such beautiful cloth.
We then went into the shop...
Oooo look, a colourwall!
Can you believe these we're only approx £12p/m! Unfortunately I wouldn't know what to do with silk, so I'm just inspired by the colour and designs.
There were also finished items such as this quilt set, the colours aren't really me, but there is definitely some courthouse steps there, and I love the folded triangles in the border.
Tomorrow a bit of a rest, then elephants on Friday!

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