Flying to Hong Kong, we flew along the coast of Alaska, nipped the edge of Siberia, across northern Japan and down through China. This is a view of China, northwest of Beijing.
1/26: Our first day in Hong Kong was spent wandering the neighborhoods
In the morning, we checked out some street markets and old parts of HK
Lots of traditional medicine shops
We took the 25 minute escalator ride (on the worlds longest escalator) up through the Mid-Levels and wandered back down
In the afternoon we took the ferry over to Kowloon. Since there was a small Falun Gong information booth set up near the terminal, the Hong Kong Youth Protection Organization blanketed the area for a block around them with these signs.
This is the run-up to New Years, so decorations are everywhere
As part of the New Years prep, buildings are decorated and figures are put up in parks
We had lunch in a packed noodle house (we were the only non-Asians in the place) where you filled out all the options on this slip and handed it to the waitress. Medium spicy had a definite kick. Would hate to find out what "very super spicy" is.
1/27: We spent today in Kowloon. Started at the Chin Lin Nunnery, the largest building in the world built without nails or other fasteners.
After the nunnery, we wandered through the Nan Lian Gardens
Walking from there through the backstreets of Kowloon was fascinating (and funky). Scaffolding is built with bamboo. This is a shot of some that started to get away on a 20 story building.
Our next destination was the The Walled City... a beautiful park that had been built where a slum was torn down.
The subways are new, efficient and packed
One thing I am loving about Hong Kong is all the neon billboards that hang out into the streets.
The buildings in dowtown Hong Kong put on light shows for the New Years. We had a great view as we took the ferry home from Kowloon.
1/28: We headed out to Lamma Island by ferry to hike from Sok Kwu Wan (seen here) to Yung Shue Wan, where we picked up another ferry to get back to Hong Kong
No idea what this plant is but it was pretty
A beautiful window in a small temple we passed just outside of Sak Kwu Wan
Looking across the harbor towards Repulse Bay, one of the cities on the back side of Hong Kong island
Our reward at the end of the hike. A wonderful seafood dinner, including these King Prawns in roast garlic and onion.
1/29: Our last day in Hong Kong. We took the tram to the top of Mt. Victoria.
The tram station at the top
The view back down
A sense of downtown Hong Kong with Kowloon across the harbor
1/30: We flew to Phnom Penh yesterday afternoon. Today, we walked down to the Royal Palace along the river. Massive amounts of work was going on to prepare what had been an empty park for the former king's ("Father King") cremation which will happen later this week. None of these buildings were there a few weeks ago.
This water tanker worker was taking a quick nap by stringing his hammock between his truck and the tree.
Crowds were gathering to mourn the king
This guy wanted his picture taken, so I obliged
Monks' quarters in Wat Sarawan
A view into the Royal Palace
One of the gates to the Royal Palace grounds
A monk taking a picture with his iPhone of the funeral procession floats being prepared
The rumor was that the Royal Palace grounds would be open at 2:00, after being closed in the morning, so we were hanging out at the south entrance where the floats were being prepped. The grounds did not open, but this was great to have stumbled upon.
Decorations on the float that will carry the casket
Assembling the float for the casket
As we walked home, we found a side entrance to the Royal Palace that would open at 3:00 so we waited and finally got inside
The Silver Pagoda has floor tiles made of pure silver. Each foot square tile weighs over a kilo
A door detail in the Royal Palace
A view across the grounds of the Royal Palace
1/31: Started the day by taking a Tuk Tuk to the National Museum. Tuk Tuks are small trailers with bench seats, pulled by a moto-scooter.
The National Museum has a wonderful collection of Cambodian stone statues progressing from the 6th - 14th centuries. (No pictures allowed inside.)
Remember the picture of the crowd of workers installing pavers yesterday? They are gone, the crane hanging the banners is gone and the plastic covers are coming off the bouquets of flowers. The week of mourning starts tomorrow.
If it's not transported in a Tuk Tuk (like in the background left) it travels by moto-scooter
The Central Market
These fried doughnuts at the Central Market smelled wonderful
Feb. 1: Today is the first day of the final week of mourning for the Father King (the former king, Norodom Sihanouk, who had abdicated to his son). The city is pretty well shut down and you can't get close to the area, so we are watching the funeral procession on TV.
After watching the procession on TV to learn more about it, we headed down to the Independence Monument where the procession would pass by. Lots of crowds but with cars kept out, it was a nice walk.
This dog definitely had the right idea, with temperatures in the mid-90's
The crowds were not bad... we were within about 30' of the front and it helps to be taller than most of the people around you.
The lead float had the reigning king on it and the crowd kneeled down.
The Father King's casket. Remember the picture of them putting the top on this several days ago?
The Father King's casket passes by the Independence Tower
The float carrying the bundle of wood that will be used for the funeral pyre
After the procession, people piled into trucks to go back to their villages
At the end of our block is a street of coconut sellers
2/2: Today we rented a car and driver and went out to Tonle Bati, where there is a small temple complex (Ta Prohm) and a "resort" on a lake
In the same area was a Buddhist temple. Because of the week of mourning for the Father King, they are chanting in the temple every day. Very beautiful.
At the resort, we rented one of the platforms and had lunch brought to us out there
As we waited for lunch and relaxed in the warm breeze, vendors would come out to entice us with their snacks. This woman had palm cakes: sticky rice paste filled with toasted coconut and steamed in a banana leaf wrapper. Twenty-five cents for two of them.
People selling food approached from all sides
We had a few kids move in to the hammocks next door to check us out
Lunch finally arrived. Crispy freshwater fish (if I could only do the skin like that!), Chicken Roty and vegetables in oyster sauce. Great seasoning.
On the way home, we stopped at the cow, bike and kid wash
Like I said, everything travels on a moto or a Tuk Tuk... even coffins
2/3: Today we are heading out of Phnom Penh to go to the Mondolkiri region on the Vietnam border. This gives you a sense of the roads.
Each board seats up to five people, so this Tuk Tuk can carry up to 45 people. The bag is sugar cane juice. You poke a straw in and drink it.
You get the juice from this gentleman, who puts the raw cane through his press
Next stop... a market in Skuon selling fried grasshoppers (foreground), tarantula (right), frogs, etc. Nope, we did not try any.
This child had just made a donation to the monks and was being blessed
Wat Nokor Pagoda is a 12th century Wat with a modern temple built onto it
For a donation, the priest will tell your fortune
There were budhas facing out in each of the four ordinal directions
Mild green peppercorns being farmed on tall trelisses. We had these peppers fresh in a fish dish that was delicious. (Eat your heart out, Lani). Depending on how much they are allowed to ripen on the vine is how you get white, red or black pepper.
2/4: We started the day at the market in Sen Monaram (Mondolkiri Province), where people from the surrounding villages come to sell their produce and buy meat, fish and housewares
This woman is making a fresh waffle for me over a charcoal fire. The batter is made from sticky rice flour and duck eggs. Very tasty. Cost 12 cents.
Fresh water cockles are covered in salt and chilis and left in the sun all day to "cook". Cockles Ceviche. Nope, didn't try any of these.
The town hardware store
Some motorbikes are older than others
One of the butcher shops
Another less busy butcher shop
These folks know head to tail cooking
The local Phong people carry these traditional baskets to go to market
One of the fish stores
A traditional Phong home. Most of these are being replaced by mainstream Cambodian homes like the one behind it
The afternoon was "riding elephants through the jungle". It wasn't really high on my list and lived down to my expectations.
It was interesting watching the elephants wash off while we had lunch
... and back to the hotel
2/5: We stopped in the market to pick up some fruit and snacks for today's drive
In one village we passed through we stopped to watch the school children at recess. These girls are playing a game where you jumped over the rope.
We were invited to look inside one of the older, poorer homes
Our destination was Bousra Falls preserve
They were trying to make it a nicer place for tourists to visit
Bousra Falls are the tallest falls in Cambodia. This is the shorter fall
... and a peak over the top of the taller falls
At the top of the falls, a boy was net fishing
Lunch was fried fish with ginger and beans... $2.50. Excellent.
2/6: Boat on the Mekong north of Kratie, Cambodia
A statue of Buddha at Wat Phnom Sambok
Wat Phnom Sambok has a string of several hundred monk statues winding up the hill to the temple
A Buddhist depiction of hell
The market in Kratie
Setting out on the river to watch the Irriwaddy Dolphins. Nearly extinct, about 75 still exist in Cambodia. This area has been established as a preserve.
Alan, Ruth and PJ
OK, so they may look like grey blobs, but it was great to see these three together. They did some acrobats in unison for us.
After lunch, we took the ferry across to an island in the middle of the Mekong where we are spending the night
We were met at the other end by our fleet of taxis
Back in the heat and humidity, after our couple of days in the hills. This pool never felt so good.
Neat banana plant outside our room
This cow cart was delivering water
Sunset along the Mekong
2/7: We left the island to travel back to Phnom Penh tonight
Next stop... a rubber factory. Much of Cambodia's forests in this area have been cut down for rubber tree plantations.
Once consolidated, the latex started going through a series of presses to squeeze out more water.
It continued to be rinsed and squeezed
We felt for this woman. She was working rapidly to spread the latex coming down the shoot while working in the heat in this plastic overalls.
These guys had to grab a 50 lb. block of latex with a hook and pull it out of each shaping bin
We then visited Phnom Udong, where ashes from Buddha are reportedly buried as well as a number of kings of Cambodia. This is the temple for Buddha.
Each temple has its own flag. Because it is so holy, a number of temples are built surrounding the mountain.
This is one of those temples
The tenth anniversary of the death of the founder of this temple will be next week, so the nuns were all out doing the gardening to spruce the place up for 500 visiting monks. This woman has been a nun for five years and she is 58 (older than the average life expectancy in Cambodia).
2/8: We took the seven hour bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap today. This is the typical modern Cambodian home outside the cities.
Preparations for a wedding party
Passing a load of chickens on a motobike. As I said earlier, EVERYTHING gets carried on motobikes or Tuk Tuks.
Ruth and Alan heading to the hotel in their Tuk Tuk.
2/9: Inside Angkor Wat, with the temple in the background. The Angkor complex was built in the 12th century and is the largest religious complex in the world.
Three apsara (spirit dancers). There are over 3000 apsara carved into the walls of Angkor Wat.
The savage gods are fighting the monkey gods (the good guys) in these Hindu carvings that covered 800 meters of hallway walls.
Inside the second level of the main temple. PJ, Ruth and Alan marvel at the carvings (while our guide waits)
The Banteya Kdei temple complex entrance. This temple complex was built in the late 12th century and was a "resort" for the king to come relax. The face may be Buddha or may be the king.
Temple Bayon in the Angkor Thom complex was our favorite so far. The walls on the first level are full of carvings telling stories about military adventures (above) and everyday life
Temple Bayon has many giant Buddha (or possibly the king's) faces across the numerous towers
2/10: Left the hotel at 7 am to get out while it was cooler and have an hour or so of relative calm before the crowds hit Ta Prohm, a temple where the large trees that over-grew the temple (and now hold up some of the walls) have not been removed. A great way to spend my birthday.
Notice the face of the apsara on the wall, peaking out between these tree roots
The top symbol looks like a stegasaurus
An evil warrior holding the snake that forms the balustrade of the causeway into the Preah Kahn temple. This is part of a legend about the Churning of the Milky Sea, where the gods (on one side of the causeway) battle the evil warriors (on the other side).
While the first temple we saw this morning was dedicated to the late 12th century king's mother, Preah Kahn is dedicated to his father.
We finished our day around noon... no mad dogs and Englishmen for us. This is a garuda in The Elephant Terrace back in the Angkor Thom temple complex. Garudas are half man, half bird from Hindu mythology.
One of the elephants that give The Elephant Terrace its name
2/11: A gasoline station in Siem Reap for the motobikes
A workshop for teaching traditional weaving techniques to both retain the culture and create jobs. In this area they are spinning the yarn from the silk grown on their mullberry farm just outside town.
On Monday afternoon we started our journey to the Prek Toal Bird Preserve on Tonle Sap Lake. This is the floating village of Prek Toal with about 500 families, where we spent the night.
The Prek Toal community center, restaurant, ecology school and traditional weaving workshop. The food in the restaurant was very good... they served lots of fish.
The community school bus
A view of part of Prek Toal floating village from the roof of the research station. The Tonle River runs into the Mekong. During monsoon season there is so much water in the Mekong that the Tonle River reverses and fills Tonle Sap Lake, raising the level about 30 feet and the size of the lake 5 fold. As the lake rises, the homes are moved to stay closer to shore.
The boat with the rounded cover is a general store that goes home to home
Another floating store.
There were three fish processing businesses in town. Here, fishermen are shoveling their catch into baskets.
2/12: We were put up in a home in the village and had to get up at 5 a.m. to catch our boat out to the Preserve. We were ready and waiting...
On the way out of town (so to speak) we stopped at the restaurant to pick up our to-go breakfasts (pineapple fried rice) while they were already busy working on lunch.
While still crossing the lake, our guide was very excited to see this large flock of Black Headed Ibis. There are only 200 pair at Prek Toal Preserve, the largest colony in S.E. Asia.
An Oriental Darter. Prek Toal has 240 pairs, the largest colony in S.E. Asia.
An Asian Pond Heron. These guys had about a 14" wingspan and were beautiful to see in flight.
A Painted Stork with a Darter in the background
Spot Billed Pelican taking off. Prek Toal Preserve is the only remaining colony in S.E. Asia. These guys were like B52's lumbering down a runway.
The Grey Headed Fish Eagle is rare in Cambodia and it was the bird our guide was most excited about all day.
The trees were often packed with birds. The black birds are Cormorants and the large white birds are Asian Pelicans.
A Cormorant lifts off. We also saw Lesser Adjutants and Greater Adjutants. Large, beautiful birds. About 15% of the world population of Greater Adjutants (30 pair) live in the Prek Toal Preserve.
The ultimate tree house. The blind we will climb up to, to observe Painted Storks and Milky Storks with their chicks nesting in the surrounding trees. There are only 10 pair of Milky Stork at Prek Toal, the only remaining colony in S.E. Asia. From the blind, we could see several Milky Stork nests with an adult and several young ones in each.
One of the Preserve rangers, laying out fish to dry on the seat of his boat
Net fishing along the river
2/13: Started the day at Banteay Srei... the jewel box of Angkor temples
Because of the incredibly fine detail in the carvings throughout the temple, this was originally thought to be a later temple, but it is a 10th century Hindu site
The temple was dedicated to the goddess Shiva
Pre Rup is another Angkor temple constructed in the late 10th century. Because it was less restored, it had very few people... quite a relief after the crowds in Banteay Srei.
One of the amazing things is that because the Khmer started by building with wood, they carried over much of their carpentry techniques to stone, including this example of a disassembled post and beam from a doorway.
Pre Rup is referred to as a Temple Mountain and was built as a 3 level Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva
We finished our day of temple tours by going back to Angkor Wat to see a famous carved mural we had missed: The Churning of the Milky Sea. This is a Hindu creation story about the thousand years war between the gods and the evil warriors to create the magic elixer of life. The gods are shown here holding the serpent's tail in a tug of war with the evil warriors.
Detail in the Milky Sea
2/14: To take a break from temple romping, PJ and I did a Cambodian cooking class today, starting with shopping for our ingredients in the market.
We each made a different appetizer and main
Then we sat down in the restaurant to eat the meals we had prepared. Clockwise from top left: Green Mango Salad, Khmer Chicken with Bok Choy, Green Papaya Salad and Morning Glory Curry with Chicken
2/15: We took a three hour taxi ride from Siem Reap to Battambang and we are staying at the Battambang Resort - a great place to relax
Battambang Resort grows most of their vegetables as well as their rice (in the rice field in the background) and has an excellent restaurant.
Tonight we went to a circus put on by 14 - 17 year olds in a circus school that is part of a not-for-profit operated school for 1400 at risk children. A wonderful show.
2/16: We started the day taking a small boat up the river... a cool thing to do on a hot day. This fisherman was our "captain".
There were many women doing the laundry in the river
There was a suspension bridge over the river... the kind that bounces up and down when you walk along it. In this case, bicycles and moto-bikes also went across it.
It is verdant farm land in the flood plain of the river. This woman is watering with two watering cans hanging from a bamboo pole across her back.
We stopped to visit one of the farming villages. This woman is cleaning the greens and roots off of fresh garlic. They pickle the garlic then use it in cooking.
This guy was obviously supervising the women who were working
Downtown Battambang, the second largest city in Cambodia
Somebody needed to dry some chilis so they set them out on the sidewalk
The roof of a Wat entrance in downtown
A guradian at the gate to the Wat
The downtown market
Nary's Kitchen was the best overall Khmer (Cambodian) meal we had. $21 for four, including beers.
The 1933 art deco central market
We visited a hundred year old house built of beautiful hardwoods. The owner (who only spoke Khmer or French... we chose French) was sleeping in the open space under the house, in her hammock. She woke up and gave us a tour, including playing several antique musical instruments for us.
This evening, we went to a limestone cave to watch millions of bats fly out (top right) at sunset and disappear into the distance. Based on the amount of guano they remove each week, they estimate that there are 30 million bats in the cave.
2/18: We are in Pakse, Lao, continuing our trip north. We started our day by taking a small boat over to Don Kho island in the middle of the Mekong River.
At Wat Silattana-Satsadalam we learned about the different standing buddha statues. From right to left, the crossed hands teach respect for others, the crossed arms on the chest teach inner calm, holding the bowl teaches charity and the outward facing palms teach non-aggression.
Nice handrail at the monastery
Don Kho (Kho Island) is a weaving village. This woman was making a very intricate pattern where she needed to wrap each different color thread around specific warp before continuing to add fiber.
Ruth bought this traditional dress ($12!) and had her picture taken with the woman who wove it
The woman's daughter
We took a boat down the Mekong to visit Vat Phu, a pre-Angkor Hindu temple complex built by Khmer kings starting in the 5th and 6th centuries. The current structures were built in the early 11th century. Vat Phu is a UNESCO world heritage site.
This temple complex was unique for us in the way that it was a long series of promenades and terraces leading up the hill to the temple
The main sanctuary is about 300' above the plain, where a sacred spring flows from the hill
The view from the main sanctuary back to the reservoirs (barays), which represent the ocean surrounding the earth.
This shows how you renovate one of these jig-saw puzzles... number every block and bring in a crane for the big stuff.
2/19: We started today with a tour of the Central Market in Pakse. The markets are always fascinating and we bought several beautiful pieces of hand woven cloth.
Amulets, charms and herbal remedies
Next we went to the Provincial Museum, which quickly reminded you that Laos is a one-party socialist state.
The label on this museum photo said "Pathet Laos soldiers holds military exercises to review the training from Vietnamese Volunteer soldiers in using 75 mm and 105 mm guns, January 20, 1962". The Vietnamese soldiers were referred to as "volunteers" because Vietnam had 3500 soldiers in Laos contrary to the Geneva Accord they had signed with the US and other parties.
Next we headed south, stopping at Um Tomo (or Um Muang), an unrestored 9th century Khmer temple in the middle of a forest
Then off to Khone Phapheng, the largest waterfalls in S.E. Asia
The falls are 15 meters (45') high and 1 kilometer (2/3rd mile) wide
We are spending the next two nights on Don Khong (Khong Island), the largest in the 4,000 Islands area of the Mekong
2/20: Sunrise over the Mekong
We'll take a couple of hour boat ride down the Mekong to visit Don Khon, an island near the Cambodian border
You can rent these bungalows, complete with hammock, for $4 a night
You can also rent bikes, so we took off
Somphamit (Liphi) waterfalls is a major rapids blocking navigation on the Mekong
Water Buffalo enjoying a cool swim
2/21: Time to get off the island and head into the highlands east of Pakse
There were multiple modes of transportation
At Xe Pian National Bio-Diversity Conservation Area we ordered lunch then watched the cook go out to the garden to pick the herbs for the seasoning
We ended the day at Tadlo Lodge, located downstream from Tadlo Falls (where I am standing to take this shot of the lodge)
One of the nice things about Tadlo Lodge was that their elephants roamed free (other than being saddled when they gave rides) and did not have chains or ropes constraining them (unlike at other elephant ride locations). This one is enjoying a bunch of bananas, breaking them off one by one. She went over to the lodge, stuck her trunk in a door and came out with them.
2/22: We went to a tribal village where, as we drove by, we had seen women weaving with small back looms. We found amazing hand-woven textiles (many with natural dyes).
PJ and Ruth showing off some of their purchases with the woman who wove them
This woman is using the back-loom which is traditional in this village. Notice the strap around her back and her feet pushing on the bamboo to tension the loom. Also notice the crowd hanging out. When we showed up ten minutes before, she was by herself. In the background, you can see the woman adjusting her daughter's traditional skirt (which all the women in Laos wear).
A display of bomb casings removed from this village. The Bolevan Plateau was the most bombed place in Laos. There were more bombs dropped on Laos than the total number of bombs dropped during WW2... more bombs per capita than ever dropped on any other country.
Lunch was at Tat Fan falls, falling 350' into a volcanic crater. Very impressive, even at the end of dry season.
Lunch was excellent in addition to the view from our table. Now it's back to Pakse to fly to Vientiane in central Laos.
2/23: Arrived in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, this afternoon. A fun city to explore.
2/24: We started the day at Pha That Luang, the most important monument in Laos. It is a symbol of both the Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty and its name means "World-Precious Sacred Stupa". Tradition says that a piece of Buddha's breastbone is buried here.
The entire stupa is gilded
This monk was touring with friends or family, taking lots of pictures with his iPad
Legend says that this Bodhi tree was brought from India 4500 years ago by the Supreme Patriarch of Laos. Each Buddha under the tree is teaching a different principle of Buddhism.
This woman sells you a bird to release to take your prayers to heaven. The birds are trained to come back to her later so she can sell them again.
The Patuxai Arch with the Presidential Palace in the distance, at the other end of Th. Lan Xang ("The Champs Elysees of the East")
Wat Mixay is built in a "Bangkok Style"
A Nyak (Guardian Giant) at one of Wat Mixay's gates
Each city has its own version of small scale transportation. In Vientiane, it is the Jumbo
Wat Ong Teu Mahawihan is one of the most important Wats in Laos. It is the official residence of the leader of the Lao monastic order and the temple contains The Heavy Buddha.
The Heavy Buddha is a 16th century bronze buddha weighing several tons. It was beautiful and massive.
Some kind of fortune telling using Joss Sticks (and a place to make your donation). Based on the sticks, you find out which slot to go to for a copy of your fortune.
These guys were just hanging out joking with each other
2/25: We leave this morning for Luang Prabang, a UNESCO world heritage site. Before leaving we ran some last minute errands, like finding this hotel I saw on the map.
We also visited an artisan weaving shop (Lao Textiles by Carol Cassidy) which makes very high end silk tapestries. This woman is winding thread that has been dyed for ikaat technique... the pattern is put on the weft thread before weaving and then lined up at each pass to make the proper pattern.
Luang Prabang is located on the Mekong River in northern Laos... hill country. That means that it takes 30 minutes to fly here or 11 hours by bus.
In the afternoon, we wandered around town to get oriented. This hall at the Royal Palace was recently built to hold the Pha Bang, a buddha made of gold, silver and bronze alloy which was given to the king in the 16th century. Luang Prabang means "Royal Pra Bang"
2/26: At sunrise, the residents of Luang Prabang set up along the street to give morning alms to the monks.
The alms are typically a small ball of sticky rice from their rice basket, some fruit, candy or money.
Looking off our balcony
As the morning ceremony ended, the sun rose over the Mekong
After breakfast, we started our morning wanderings by going to Vat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang's most significant temple, dating back to 1560.
Many of the buildings around the sim (ordination hall) had very complex glass mosaics.
Xieng Thong was only one of two temples in Luang Prabahm not destroyed by the Thai in 1887. This is a view into the Reclining Buddha Sanctuary (or "Red Chapel")
The Reclining Buddha is classic Lao style and is an exceptional execution
The sim represents classic Luang Prabang temple architecture, with roofs that sweep low to the ground.
Many women shield themselves from the sun while riding their bikes or motos
2/27: Collecting morning alms begins as the monks emerge from their Wat
This woman was making some delicious looking dish that involved adding a ladle of rice flour batter then various ingredients (such as an egg or chopped spiced meat) to this boiling pot then skimming the surface and serving it.
A woman and her grand-daughter wait to give alms
To teach reciprocal charity, several monks gave the young girl a treat in her bowl
Bringing the collection bowls back to a central kitchen where women cook the meal for the monks and other community members
The Royal Palace Museum
The morning market, where hills people come down to sell their produce
I bought some of these rice flour and coconut cakes hot off the griddle here
In the dry season, they build temporary bamboo bridges across the river. Sixty cents toll (round trip).
Across the river from Luong Prabang we bought this piece of cloth directly off this woman's loom.
Here she is tying the tassles to finish off the cloth for us
2/28: Final prep of the sticky rice that will be given as alms. The rice is steaming when they first show up, which means they have been up and cooking it since about 5:30 a.m.
At the central market, where PJ's found her hog
The TEAC ethno-textile museum was a tiny gem. These are Hmong dresses. The pleats are made by hand folding then storing the dresses pressed between two boards.
Decoration around the top of a Tai Dam hand woven mosquito net
An early 20th century Tai Daeng hand spun and woven blanket
Monks on the move
The temple at the Royal Palace which was built to hold the Floating Buddha (Pha Bang)
A centerpiece on a table
March 1: Before sunrise I took the bamboo bridge across the river and walked to Xang Khong village to watch the alms ceremony in a non-tourist location. Since I was early, I checked out the village market. No matter how many village markets you go to, you always find something new, such as these live snakes.
The market butcher. Notice how they sell everything, including the bags of blood.
Before the monks arrived to gather alms, this woman placed small balls of sticky rice in each dragon's mouth at the wat.
Men can stand but must bow their heads. Women must sit or kneel. Everyone wears a scarf over the left shoulder and is barefoot. They do not look at the monks as they give alms.
The monks would put some of the food they had collected into these baskets to give back to the needy. After collecting alms from a group of villagers, the monks would stop about 30' past them and turn and chant for several minutes, blessing the villagers as seen here.
3/2: The mode of transportation in Chiang Mai, Thailand is the Red Taxi. It is a pick-up truck with a large shell with bench seats. You can rent the whole thing for yourself or flag down one going in your direction and ride with other people.
We took a Red Taxi to Wat Doi Suthep, which is an ancient wat site on top of a mountain in the middle of a national park. Popular.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
A religious ceremony was to ladle oil into the candle holder in front of each buddha.
Back in the old city having a wonderful lunch at The Canal restaurant. My dish was pomello salad with shrimp. You wrapped the salad in a leaf to eat it.
You have to be kidding... she was fanning her dog while she carried it.
3/3: We head home tonight. Before going, I got one last elephant ride in. Last photo for this trip... hope you enjoyed it.