Saturday, November 29, 2008

11. November Chiang Mai - Some Language Lessons and Wat Doi Su Tep

Bailey & Mieke do some shooting in the morning, then Nym joins us at around noon We all pile into the van for, firstly, a foiled attempt at shooting at a local Elephant Farm - crowded with police as the banner stated: The People of the Kingdom of Thailand Warmly Welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra of the Royal Kingdom. So cameras = no dice.

We then head into Chiang Mai to see local craft - from traditional to contemporary - in the galleries of a growing art district. There is more fantastic high-end weaving, painting, furniture and wood sculpture - including some figures playing the folk instruments we saw last night. There is a “tuk-tuk” - a groovy little 3-wheeled taxi - with some awesomely familiar propoganda parked outside of a gallery....

Nym and John, the driver, are kind enough to clarify some basic Thai lingo for us along the way:
Sawaddee-kah - A hello/goodbe greeting like aloha, said by a woman/girl.
Sawaddee-k(r)up - greeting when said by a man/boy
K(r)ab kun-kah - Thank you, when said by a woman/girl
K(r)ab kun-k(r)up - Thank you, said by the masculine
SooAY - beautiful
With “sooay” and manymany other words, the speaker has to be careful not to pronounce the word in such a way that it actually becomes a total insultingly rude remark... Thai is a tonal language, similar to Chinese. The rising, falling, dipping, etc tones can completely change the meaning of a word. For instance, the sentence “Mai Mai Mai Mai Mai” would be “Wet Wood Doesn’t Burn” with the proper tones!
Far and away my favorite vocabulary words, however, are the simple “yes” and “no.” In Thailand, there is literally no word for “no.” There is “yes” - “chai”, and “not yes” - “mai chai”. It’s the perfect summation of a very positive culture.

Then on to catch “magic hour” at Wat Doi Su Tep. The word “wat” itself means “temple” and “doi,” “mountain.” So it is the “Temple at Mount’ SuTep” Despite rampant tourism, it is a place of overwhelming peace and beauty. The kids & I wander the temple - marveling at the sagas of art and sculptures. Bailey & Mieke shoot, then find time to enjoy the wat for itself. As the sun drops, we ring bells and gongs and look out over the city of Chiang Mai.

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