Chiang Mai - Homestay visit

On this year’s tour we repeated our village visit to the countryside.  We departed about 9:30 and our first stops were three of the craft villages east of Chiang Mai. We did silk, lacquer ware, and the famous Bo Sang paper umbrella village.  These stops were far from “behind the curtain” activities, but very fun, colorful, and photogenic.  Next stop, the hot springs where we cooked eggs in the thermal waters and had a wonderful picnic.  During free time Tom, Debbie, and I opted for Thai massage where we laughed and “bow-bowed” (bow bow is Thai for gentle) our way through an hour‘s pleasure. We moved on to the homestay, the same as our last tour.  For those inclined, Ae led a bike ride through the countryside. We visited a local temple, a mushroom farm, and the handicrafts cooperative.  That evening we enjoyed northern-style Kantok dinner, accompanied by the local headmaster and his students playing Thai music for us.  The music was not very professional, but the authentic “curtain” connection experience and engagement with the kids was priceless.  After dinner we retreated to the garden for Thai dance (again by the local students) and the Thai floating lantern ceremony.  Annually, the Thais hold the Loi Katon festival of lights all over the country.  It started as a ceremonial thanksgiving to the river spirits (floating lanterns) but eventually expanded to supplication to the spirits of the air as well.  Our hosts filled and launched two huge, paper lanterns, essentially providing us with our own private Loi Katon experience.  We watched as they drifted high into the night sky, finally blinking out after several minutes and several hundred feet of altitude.  A fitting end to another good day in this amazing country.