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Chennai Journal
Saturday, August 19, 2006
 
Cabbages, Condoms, and Long Necked Ladies



We got back from Thailand on Wednesday, and Marty is now on his way back to the U.S. In Bangkok, we stayed with friends from our synagogue and they took us to dinner at a famous local place called Cabbages and Condoms---so called for its work in AIDS prevention (and where pretty much everything is decorated with condoms). We arrived on the Queen's birthday (known as Mother's Day in Thailand), and there was a huge celebration in the evening at a large local park (see above). The Thais really know how to throw a party--there must have been at least half a dozen stages and mobs of people, most sporting either yellow (for the King) or blue (for the Queen) shirts. In Thailand, each day is associated with a color, and since the King was born on Monday (yellow) and the Queen on Friday (blue) it is a sign of respect to wear one of these colors.


After spending a day in Bangkok (and ordering more clothes at Nickermann's) we headed up to Chiang Mai, about an hour's flight from Bangkok.

Chiang Mai has lots of things to do. We took a tour one day up near the Burmese border, visiting an orchid farm, a cave with very interesting Buddhist art and statues including the famous "reclining Buddha" and finally, a
village of the so-called "long neck women." They are refugees from Burma, and have a custom of wearing very heavy (about 40 lbs for an adult woman) rings around their necks and sometimes legs as well. Girls at the age of about five begin to wear them, and as the girl grows, more and more rings are added. There are various stories about how the custom got started, both religious and practical. The women weave and sell their wares for very reasonable prices--- given the number of visitors, they likely do very well assuming they get to keep most of what they earn.

When we got back to Chiang Mai, I checked out the Night Market which was right next to our hotel. ( Marty passed on this--he has seen street markets in virtually all the cities we have visited and feels that if you have seen one, you've seen them all!).

Chiang Mai has lots of other activities for tourists, and the following day we did a Thai cooking class, where we learned how to carve vegetables, make Pad Thai and some other stir fry dishes, and visited a local market. I'm having trouble posting more photos on the site right now, but if you look on Flickr at the top, you can see Marty in his apron!



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