Thai Wall Hanging

Antique wall hangings from Thailand. Fake.

I was lucky to have a job with a global company. I got to travel to many countries, and although there was more work than play on those trips, I always got out and looked around. These little wall hangings were bought during my trip to Thailand, modern copies of antique forms.

I had three days after a conference in Bangkok and decided to travel up to Chiang Mai. With no reservations, I picked out a rather inexpensive hotel on the internet that had openings. Unrated, but my friend and I could afford it. Turned out to be wonderful. Big room, cool, with tile on the floor and a window that opened out onto a quiet street in a non-touristy part of town where kids who were going to go “hiking” in the Himalayas gathered.

The woman at the desk directed us to restaurant in a traditional Thai house, all teak and built on stilts. We had to take off our shoes to enter the dining area which was one big room — I think the kitchen was under the main floor. The interior was well-worn, beautifully aged wood; real antiques of musicians hung on the walls. We ordered coconut milk to drink, since no sodas were served. The waiter opened an ancient refrigerator hulking in the dining room, took out two coconuts, hacked off the tops with a big knife, added straws and served. Sweet and cool, perfect.

These little dolls remind me of a special place.

Thai Mask

A painted wooden mask. I bought this mask in Bangkok, on a hot day. (All the days in Thailand were hot…91 at 11:00pm I recall. Ok, not so different than this summer!) The shop was really just an outdoor stand near the giant Buddha.

The Buddha lies on his side, seemingly as long as a football field, and asleep. This is Thailand, so he is covered with gold. Impossible to get a full-length picture because he’s inside a long structure like a train station, but more decorative, with painted rafters. What I like best about him are the soles of his feet, decorated with swirls of mother of pearl. Makes me think he might have been ticklish.

A highlight of my 3 days in Thailand was an elephant ride. We were the last group of the day, just a few of us. Understand, you sit very high on an elephant, in a throne-like wooden chair. You climb a ladder to board, then off you go, single file. Green jungle all around and right beneath your feet, the “driver, who sits on the elephant’s head, wearing a bright blue saucer hat. The drivers are quite young. The story is that little boys are matched with baby elephants and they stay together all their lives, since elephants live so long.

I was riding last in line and it soon became obvious that my elephant would have rather been home, resting. We lagged. Then the elephant, let’s call her Phoebe, saw some delicious bush just off the path. She went for a snack, taking me along for the ride. The little driver gave Phoebe a prod. She shook her head and continued to munch. Another, sharper prod. Phoebe, annoyed, shook again. At the third prod, she began stamping her feet and swinging her body side to side. I hung on for dear life, laughing as if on a Disney ride. Don’t know what the driver said, but eventually we got back in line and contined our walk.

When we returned to their “home,” Phoebe and her friends had the treat of a bath. The boy drivers and the elephants in the river were like boys anywhere, frolicking with their dogs. Only these playmates were slightly larger.