It was a quiet day in more than one way. We slept in late today and walked around Chiang Rai to see some of the markets in the daylight. Apparently, we had been doing so many other things during the day that we'd always wander into downtown Chiang Rai at night for shopping and food. A very different look and feel during the day. It was also quiet today because no more firecrackers and fireworks were going off. We had gotten used to 4 days of continuous firecrackers for Loy Krathong festival. But today was deadly silent. It's strange to sit here blogging in bed and not having thunder booms going off on the sidewalk outside the guesthouse. Some of the fireworks would sound like cannons going off. We got used to it though and slept right through them. The temperature today is chilly by Chiang Rai-ians standard. This morning many people were wearing long sleeved shirts and jackets. Some had their dogs in their cute little knitted winter jackets. Yup, it was a chilly and overcast 75F here in the lovely little city of Chiang Rai. Wish I brought my winter coat and long johns . We visited
the Hill Tribe Museum today. Located in downtown Chiang Rai and easy to walk to. It was a nice overview of all the different tribes that are in the mountains north and west of the city. Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures of the items which is a bummer since their tribal wear has some fantastic colors, beading, intricate embroidering and sewing, shells, and coins on them. It can take months to a year to make one outfit. The display spoke a lot about the exploitation of the tribes. People buying the tribal handiwork for basically nothing. Interesting to find out is that they are not considered Thai people because they all migrated from other countries (China, Laos, Burma, Tibet) and settled in the mountains. They are tolerated aliens and do not possess citizenship, rights, medical care, refugee status, etc. Children born in Thailand are not considered citizens. One tribe which many are most familiar with are the Karen Long Neck Tribe. This is the tribe where the women were the brass rings around their necks. Starting about 7 yrs old they add one per year until around age 18. They also wear them on their legs. This tribe is from
Burma and has been fighting for independence from them for years. Apparently, they are heavily exploited by Thai businessmen. They pick up and move entire villages from Burma and relocate them in the mountains. They then proceed to "display" the tribe for visitors to see. The Long Necks have been veering away from using the neck rings but their "owners" persuade the women to wear them by offering more monthly stipends if they were them. Most hill tribes are moving into the 21st century with modern clothes, customs, Christianity, and Buddhism (traditionally they are Animists). The Long Necks are eligible for refugee status to America but very few make it to refugee camps set up by the UN and NGOs. One because they don't know about it because they aren't allowed to travel outside their area and two because their "owners" don't want them to leave because they'll lose money. However, even those in refugee camps wait a very long time for refugee status since only a few get asylum. Somber situation.
I added a few pics of the town. Not great pictures since overcast but a nice snapshot of typical street scenes. I also included a picture of
a squat toilet since some have never seen them (much less used them). In case you can't figure it out for the photo, stand on the little porcelain foot rest, drop trou, and squat. When done, use the bucket which has "clean" water and a bowl or scoop in it and scoop some water into the toilet to rinse (that is flush). And, yes, we've used them without any embarrassing incidents.