Monday, April 28, 2008

"Shop 'til you Drop"

Before you get too excited thinking that this blog will be another account of how I did something unfortunate like falling off a curb into a hole or down an well-used but non-functioning escalator, I'll tell you up front, it is not. No punch line to this story. :)

I wrote yesterday that on Saturday I "followed" Cat and Faith around Chiang Mai shopping for the various elements needed so the tailor can make Faith's prom dress. We had a couple other things on our shopping list and then -- you'll not be surprised -- occiasionally I got "distracted" by things and we just had to look. Cat and Faith were very patient and gracious.

This photo shows the lower level of a multi-level indoor market -- one of the places we shopped. Most of the food items were on this level. We hiked up to the upper most level looking for "prince pants" that some of Cat's friends in Australia want for their production of the King and I. While there, I found a jacket that I think will come in handy when the AC gets too cold at the hotel this next week and that I'll use as a travel jacket on planes for the same reason. The price was right.

While we shopped I discovered that stores here that carry merchandize from India and Nepal and other near-by countries are way cooler than the ones in the States that carry the same. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the babies napping on cots between racks of clothing. Maybe it's the fact that the prices are in a currency which forces me to do math and there is something about that which is good fun. Maybe it's the fact that I'm more convinced that these things are made by hand when I occasionally see the hands that make them. The colors and textures were breathtaking. Thanks to many well-positioned electric fans, I could endure the heat long enough to enjoy these things.

We purchased juice along the way from a street vendor -- some sort of orange juice which was fantastic and refreshing.

I was happy to be with people who could take me to the market area where locals shop rather than only seeing the markets that are geared for the tourists. This means I saw stores that sell pots and pans, underwear, face creams (almost all with "whitening" ingredients), and school uniforms.

Because I have been in the Philippines for a couple of weeks already, I am greatly enjoying this venture NOT under the influence of jetlag. This is the first time since my summer in China that I've been in Asia without a travel hang-over and it makes a good bit of difference in what I can absorbe. Still, the HEAT and the CLOSE QUARTERS and the "unpredictable" TRAFFIC did eventually have me longing to put my feet up in a quiet place.

Well, we found one. While Faith did homework in the lobby, Cat and I enjoyed a Thai massage. My first. Interesting experience. My western brain has a hard time understanding how what they did to my not-so flexible body -- applying pressure here, stretching there -- cleared my sinuses and took the swelling in my ankles down. But, it did. I'll simply say that I was surprised at how very strong the gentle-speaking, small Thai woman was who pretzled and poked me proved to be.

So, we shopped and then dropped and it was delightful all around.

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