Day 5: Karen, Art and Shopping Malls

We started our day by visiting the tribal people – Karens. These are those famous long-necked women that depress their collar bones for beauty. The thing that interested me more during our visit was their use of local engineering and technology. I observed that their roofs were made with regular dried leaves and they used water power for their machines. Such things interest me because I’m a hardcore engineer but it will probably bore most of you to death. So, I’ll just skip it. However, it’s still interesting to note that these people are, by themselves, a tourist attraction. When they see me coming with my DSLR, they all move into position for me to take snap shots. How quaint – not having to get people to pose or ask them for permission.

After that, we went off to a few other tourist attractions including, a petting zoo for tigers (!!!), a snake show and an umbrella factory. It is at this umbrella factory that I witnessed more skilled craftsmanship. I told my family that if these artistes set up shop in Central Market, KL and charged between RM10 to RM20 for each drawing, they would make a fortune. Most of the teenage girls in KL would love to have these artistes customise their clothes and accessories for them. RM10 is nothing much to spend on getting some quality artwork rendered on your favourite bag, for example. Furthermore, these artistes worked so fast, it hardly took them 5 minutes to render this drawing on our clothes. Since they’re meant for umbrellas to begin with, it’s all water-proof!

At this point, I had grown rather weary of factories. We were of course, brought to a few others – leather, cotton and what nots. Since this was the end of our official tour, we asked that our tour guide drop us off at a local shopping mall so that we could pick up a few other items at local prices as opposed to tourist prices. Our guide told us that there were only two malls in ChiangMai, an older small one and a newer big one. So, we went to the big one. While exploring the big one, I learned a few more things. The cost of goods in ChiangMai is pretty much similar to that in Malaysia. Of course, this was limited to the things that I’m interested to buy – i.e. DVDs, books, electronic gadgets. The only cheap stuff in ChiangMai are the local crafts and of course sundries like rice and vegetables.

PS: As you can tell, I’ve grown rather weary of writing as well! But, I shall press on!

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Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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