We had three main stops during the tour; a Wat that represented the Lanna style (Lanna being a kingdom contemporary with Ayutthaya, the Khmer, and the Chama) that is a very different cultural heritage from the Thai (they had their own language and alphabet), a village that is home to a variety of endangered ethnic tribes in the mountain areas (more on this later), and a huge, sprawling mountainside botanical garden.
During the first part of our trip I spent a lot of time with the photographer's wife (the photographer was from New Zealand and his wife is Thai). Once again the discussion leaned heavily on Buddhist philosophy, the history of the area, and the cultural differences between the various parts that make up modern Thailand.
Wat in the Lanna Style
Represented by a different architecture and interior style and the use of teak wood
The Hill Tribe Village
Some more explanation is in order here. This 'village' is a privately run operation. It provides free land for a variety of ethnic hill tribes. They make their money selling things to tourists. I was initially fairly put off by what looked like exploitation of these groups. They are all dressed up in their traditional garb and the tourists are all running around taking pictures of them. But our guides who go their often and know many of them well told us that their traditional homelands are often far from any kind of education or medical resources. And many come from areas of Myanmar or China where they have been persecuted. Many are in Thailand without papers. So the peoples themselves are happy to have a more peaceful place with more access to care. There were a number of the children who just stole my heart. I probably would have bought everything being sold if I had the money to do so. I know I'm just projecting my values.
82 year old woman doing batik design
Our photographer Kevin in action with Wife
This girl is about 9 or 10. I watched her working away at weaving for a good 30 minutes. She was so focused and hard working. I ended up buying a number of her goods for some of my granddaughters.
This girl was special
The photographers had been seeing her for some time.
She is 6 years old. Bright as all get out. And has learned how to use one of the cameras the photographers let her borrow.
And no matter where you go in the world or what culture
Kids like bubbles
At the Botanical Garden
Didn't do much here. One of the photographers made me take an art photo with my phone
"Don't pick up rocks and Don't draw on things"????
Some random culinary highlights
We've been so tired in the evening that we just have been eating at the hotel. They don't have a lot of traffic. But they have a chef on duty all the time. So you pretty much get your food made to order.
I had this minced pork with glass noodle dish that was spicy as all get out and with a sort of acid, salad dressing type of flavoring. Loved it.
Our photographers took us to a restaurant where I got a dry Tom Yum flavored noodle dish with seafood.