No curve was too sharp for them and their bicycle. No puddle was deep enough to stop them. -- Friends by Helme Hein

11 September, 2011

Glimpses of Chiang Mai

It was oodles cheaper to fly the long way around the world to Oregon than it was to fly directly across the Pacific, so we booked our flight to Copenhagen with a stop-over in Thailand.  Guy, a friend from Japan, married Pia in Chiang Mai and we were honored to be invited to the wedding.  It was a beautiful ceremony full of family, tradition, symbols and delicious Thai food. 
Before the ceremony, the bride and groom, and Pia's daughter, greeted everyone with champagne and drinks. 

The ceremony was held at the Yaang Come boutique hotel in the center of the city, where we also stayed for a few nights.  The bride and groom sat in the center while select people spoke about marrige and commitment.  Both sets of parents also joined the bride and groom on stage (off to the right in this picture) and were also thanked ceremoniously.  There was no pronunciation of "man and wife," but rather wishes and sentiments for their life together.

After the speeches, each guest of the party was invited to share his/her own words of wisdom with the couple by whispering into their ears while simultaneously tying a piece of string around their wrists as a reminder of the commitment.

The wedding stage was decorated with beautiful shrines, flowers and food, all Thai symbols of marriage.
Woody was a hit with the ladies, naturally.  Thai people absolutely adore children.  We couldn't go anywhere without someone wanting to stop to say hi, touch his feet and just oggle him.  I even had a Thai woman at the airport follow me into the bathroom stall to play with him while I changed his diaper!  It was a little awkward asking her to leave when I then needed to use the facilities. 

Noriko and adorable Sebby-chan also came from Japan for the wedding.  We visited the monkeys at the zoo together.  Sebastian loved them, Woody didn't seem to notice. 

First swim!

The pool at the Yaang Come.  A peaceful oasis, despite being in the center of the city.

I like this picture because if you look closely, you can see 3 young monks off in the distance.  Chiang Mai is a Buddhist spiritual center and monks fill the streets.  These particular youngsters got very giddy and red-faced when they said hello to me.  It was quite funny.

First tuk-tuk ride.  Do you think they recommend this in the baby books?  In America, I'm sure I'd be called a bad mom and possibly put in jail for child neglect.  But for the rest of the world, extreme safety laws are non-existent and instead prudent caution is the norm.  As we traveled with a 3 month old through these different countries this summer, we encountered many different cultural norms and expectations.  What is ok in one country, is unacceptable in another.  It's interesting to note how societies determine what it means to protect and love your children.  I love the documentary, Babies, because it illustrates that idea so perfectly through the storytelling and cinematography.

 Delicious and inexpensive Thai food.  James got spice Thai style and I think he finally met his match.  His mouth is still watering for more.

Bathing in Thailand!  Just my size.

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