Showing posts with label Chiang Mai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chiang Mai. Show all posts

Sunday, December 13, 2015

One Experience Flows Into The Next

The Lavender Umbrella, Chiang Mai, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 cm
Like unstoppable sand falling to the bottom of an hour glass, my time in Thailand is running out. I have to leave within a week, and although just stepping across the border to Cambodia, thinking of going away brings tinges of remorse.

I have Thai friends here in Chiang Mai, the streets are no longer confusing, I like riding my motorcycle, the cost of living is low, the climate is great, I have had good apartments including now when I can go swimming at the pool every day, I have made paintings and captured wonderful photographs. There is much more to explore—yet I am leaving. Thailand visa requires a limit of thirty days. I can turn around and come back immediately and stay longer, but THE DREAM is carrying me around the world and I must arrive again in the United States.

Papua New Guinea has always held an attraction for me, ever since I saw photographs in National Geographic of fearsome men in makeup and bones through their noses. I am making my way there, and have found that one of the cheapest routes is through Bali, where I arrive Christmas night.

In dreams, one experience flows into the next, with grand eloquence and abundance of awe inspiring surprise. This is THE DREAM, and I know it has many dimensions. I will stay in touch with my Thai friends, think fondly of them and keep them in my heart as I do with everyone that I meet along the way. With some people, it is never good-bye, but rather, we will see each other again.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sweet Light

Oh, for sweet light! People around the world rejoice in and praise it. Light represents hope, sustenance, and illumination.

Into my heart's night

Along a narrow way
I groped; and lo! the light,

An infinite land of day.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, where I live, there is an annual tradition of giving light on Christmas Eve. Paper bags are weighted with a layer of sand and a candle is lit and placed inside, then, scores of these “farolitos” (Spanish for “little lights”) are placed along paths, streets, sidewalks, on walls and even rooftops. Streets are closed to vehicles in an old and historic part of town along Canyon Road, where the art galleries line both sides of the avenue. As night falls, people gather in masses to walk among the farolitos, or gather at luminarios (bonfires) to sing carols and be festive. The tradition lights up the heart and soul, as thousands of people stroll. Amid joyous sounds of Christmas music, the revelry of friends and families greeting each other fills the air.

The lights have their roots in the 1800's. Small bonfires were used to guide people to Christmas Mass. Quite often they were set out during the final night of Las Posadas, the symbolic representation of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter in Bethlehem walking from home to home before Jesus was born.
 In later days, children carried small farolitos as they reenacted Las Posadas.

This year as I walked among the darkened masses of people and flickering firelights, Heidi of the Mountains walked by my side. “This is my first time!” she exclaimed with glee.

No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.  ~Terry Pratchett

Your life is something opaque, not transparent, as long as you look at it in an ordinary human way.  But if you hold it up against the light of God's goodness, it shines and turns transparent, radiant and bright.  And then you ask yourself in amazement:  Is this really my own life I see before me?  ~Albert Schweitzer

A couple years ago, during October, I arrived in Varanasi, India, just at the beginning of Devali, "festival of lights"; an important five-day festival in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Mounds of marigold blossoms were heaped in the streets, to be gathered to make garlands. In the evening, a man rowed me on the Ganges River to see fireworks and watch the huge cremation fires on the riverbank. As night fell, little handmade boats were floating everywhere—set upon their voyage carrying flower petals and candle, lit with someone’s hope.

My mind withdrew its thoughts from experience, extracting itself from the contradictory throng of sensuous images, that it might find out what that light was wherein it was bathed... And thus, with the flash of one hurried glance, it attained to the vision of That Which Is.
Saint Augustine

After I left India, by chance I arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand, at the beginning of Loi Krothon, a festival where firelight plays a central role. "Loi" means "to float" and a "krathong" is traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk. A krathong will be decorated with elaborately folded banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. A low value coin is sometimes included as an offering to the river spirits.

During the night of the full moon, Thais will float their krathong on a river, canal or a pond lake. The festival is believed to originate in an ancient practice of paying respect to the spirit of the waters. In Chiang Mai, night parades wind through the streets, with many of the costumed participants marching with candles aglow. Also, candles are lit under canopies of paper and as the warm air rises and is trapped, the lit paper bags rise into the air—thousands through the night, glowing all the way. It is quite the sight.

And of all illumination which human reason can give, none is comparable to the discovery of what we are, our nature, our obligations, what happiness we are capable of, and what are the means of attaining it.
Adam Weishaupt

There is not enough darkness in the entire world to put out the light of even one small candle.
  Robert Alden

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sawatdi Ka

Chiang Mai
is Thailand’s second city, the northern country cousin to Bangkok. In this city of 150,000 (1 million in the cosmopolitan area), skyscrapers do not exist, but there are more than three hundred temples, among them some of the most beautiful and revered in the entire Buddhist world, giving the city an atmosphere of calmness and timeless elegance. It is international, since so many visitors arrive for the authentic Thai experience, often going trekking into the mountains, riding elephants and river rafting.

My friend Noy and I enjoy each other, and it helps to have a local buddy to make me feel at home and show me around. From the back of the motorcycle, I am given instructions in Thai- Sye (left), Qua (right) and Darong (straight). After seven days, I feel expert in the congested roadways.
Thai people have a nice way of greeting—they bring their palms together in front of their heart in a prayer-like fashion and bow slightly, smiling, and saying sawatdi ka the traditional welcome. Their language is impossible for westerners to read, since the characters are unique.
The markets are always good places to visit for local flavor. Vendors often just spread a blanket out on the pavement and sell their fresh fruits and vegetables. Flowers are plentiful and the variety is wonderful—I saw varieties I had never before seen.
Although I am entranced by the people, way of life, and low cost of living, the art scene in Thailand is not sophisticated enough to convince me to live here. Traditional crafts are plentiful, but I need a contemporary, vibrant and developed art culture to participate in. Nonetheless, certainly I will return.

Tomorrow I travel to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What Happened to July 8th?

Certainly, traveling long distances is mind altering. I boarded a plane in New Mexico that took me to Los Angeles, where late in the evening July 7, we took off on a sixteen-hour flight to Bangkok. I had already booked a hotel for my arrival on July 8, and made arrangements with my Thai friend to meet me at the airport at 9 AM. Then, during the flight I heard an announcement that startled me. We were landing July 9. Quickly, a nightmare unfolded in my mind of my friend waiting for me. I checked with a flight attendant who suggested I use the airplane telephone and call. My friend does not speak English so the attendant had to do the translating. Fortunately, we spoke, but I learned that my friend had been waiting five hours. Ughhh! I felt as though I was in an episode from the Twilight Zone, completely vaporizing a calendar day—July 8, 2009.

I have been in Thailand four days now, and although it is the rainy season, it has not rained and the days have been beautiful. After Bangkok, I am now in Chiang Mai, the second largest Thai city, in the north of the country, and getting a feel for life. Thai people are very polite and warm. I am getting used to seeing occasional elephants, hearing strange instruments played in the streets and riding a motorcycle everywhere. Last night I went with my Chiang Mai friend to dinner in a restaurant that has a huge buffet with raw foods of every kind. Servants bring drinks and then, after selecting your courses, you return to the table and cook your own meals over a big round broiler that looks like a big hat, with a raised middle for cooking meats and seafood, and a circular pan (brim) that boils water and makes a flavorful broth to cook vegetables, shrimp and more. It takes only minutes and is fun. You can cook and season to your own taste, and eat when you like, going back for more ingredients whenever you desire. The food stays hot and fresh right in front of you. All for less than five dollars a person. This one meal a day could be sufficient to live on.
Could I live here as an artist? I will begin to find out in the next days.
Some facts about Thailand.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Impeccable Timing

THE DREAM has impeccable timing. I arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city, at the beginning of Loi Krathong, a major festival that brings foreigners and natives together in three days of revelries and merrymaking. Most of the big activities start in the early evening, continuing until midnight. Parades wind slowly through the streets, fireworks crackle, little boats with candles, flowers, and small offerings are let loose with prayers to float away in the river and into the night, and thousands upon thousands of huge paper bags rigged with burning candles are heated until they soar upward with good wishes, making the sky look like the milky way for as far as can be seen all evening long.

I am hooked on the Thai massage, so had a treatment and afterward, felt so good toward Noi, my masseuse that I asked her to dinner. She speaks only a few words of English, so her friend Nee came with us and we ate in a big hall with several hundred Thai people. Big woks, sitting atop hot coals are on the tables so you can prepare your own food and as much as you want exactly how you want it while a waiter serves you drinks. We roasted huge, fresh shrimp, and dipped them in spicy sauces, ate sushi, cooked meats and vegetables, made broths, ate fruit and had desert. The selection is extravagant, and the total price for all three of us was less than fifteen dollars. Since then, Noi and I have seen each other frequently, and despite the language difficulty enjoy an easy ambience together and have fun. I rented a motorbike for five dollars a day, and had my hair cut for the handsome price of two dollars.
Yesterday took me into the countryside and now I can say I have taken a ramble through a jungle on the back of an elephant. The same day included white-water rafting, trekking to a waterfall and swimming under cool, cascading water, and visiting a mountain tribe to walk through their village.
Thailand is beautiful, but it is the Thai people that make the country wonderful. They are warm, accepting and open, and the slightest smile brings a smile in return. I now have friends in northern Thailand who will be here for me when I return. Now I must go back to Bangkok and visit the embassy of Vietnam so that I can get a visa to my next destination country.