Day 8: Chiang Mai flower festival parade

We awoke to a beautiful day. Since it was the day for the famous Chiang Mai Flower Festival, we got a move on and got going pretty early. We walked down to Tha Phae Road, which leads into the main eastern gate into the old city, which I posted a picture of on yesterday's post.

This parade was so cool. It was already going on when we got there, but we still saw over two hours of it. It was so much like a parade in the US, and let so unlike one here as well. It was like ones here in that there were marching bands, all playing western songs I recognized, and there were flower floats, local groups. etc. However, it was also unlike one here in that there were no barricades, and we were right up on the parade. When something large, like a float, was coming through, guys with whistles would urge people back. Also, there were, of course, a lot of things you don't get in parades in the US, like all the people in traditional costumes and the guys carrying huge drums (one of my favorites).

Here are some random pictures of the parade.

Not sure who these guys are, but we were walking behind a trio of them on the way down to the parade.

I think this little boy thought the parade was about the most amazing thing he had ever seen. I tend to agree.
I think I mentioned that the King's sister had recently died. She was featured on several floats (not to the mention many, many pictures of her everywhere).

Some of these pictures really give you a sense of how close we were to the action.

This band was so great.
Here's a video of them. See if you can figure out what song they are playing. I think you can.

Another cool thing. Since there were no barricades, five minutes after the parade was over it was a major street again, carrying a ton of traffic.

After the parade was over, we had an OK lunch at a place called The Corner. It was good, but nothing great. One cool thing happened, though. I went to use the restroom, and to get to it you went right through the kitchen, right past the guy at the wok. Everything was right there. It was pretty cool, for some reason. I was excusing myself to squeeze past the guy who had just cooked my lunch.

After the parade is over, they take all of the floats down to a large park that is in the southwest corner of the old city. They stay there all weekend so that everyone can go see them. There are also flower displays, and, of course, food vendors. Actually, that's not different. Food vendors are everywhere in Thailand. Seriously. Everywhere.

Here is a picture going into the street where the floats are. Note the city wall on the left.

I think pretty much the whole city was there. Many people were having picnics at this nice park. This picture doesn't look really crowded, I know, but trust me, there were people everywhere.
After walking around the park for a while, we decided to head back. We were actually a long way from the hotel, so we decided to take a tuk-tuk. This was actually the first one we had taken. The ride cost us 50 baht, and I gave the guy 60, or about $2. We asked the guy to take us to The Chedi, which is a really nice hotel over on the river that sells cigars. Man, I would like to stay at this place. Swankerrific.

A got three cigars, and we took another tuk-tuk to the pedestrian bridge, then walked back to the hotel for a rest. L went shopping at a really nice place next to the hotel, and I sat on our porch drinking Singha and smoking a Cohiba cigar. It was an extremely pleasant afternoon.

That evening we had dinner at The Brasserie, another of the nice places on the river. It has good live music and good food. It was a great place.


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