First on the agenda today was a visit to Ban Daam (the Black House). The Black House is not a temple, but an art museum designed by Thawan Duchanee, a student of the artist that designed the White Temple. The Black House is the polar opposite of the White Temple, but is a fascinating place. Tima, our driver from yesterday, picked us up promptly at 8:30 and so we arrived at the museum about 5 minutes before it opened. We were first in line to get our tickets, though there was a tour group that was let in before we were.
I was unaware of how large the grounds are; I thought that the first building we went into was the entire place. Boy, was I wrong! It became apparent immediately that the artist had a particular style. In a weird way, it reminded me of Chihuly’s glass work. He used lots of twisting horn-like shapes, as well as actual animal skulls and many alligator skins. The most interesting display in the first building was the long snake skin covered in coins. People also stuffed bills into its mouth. I don’t know exactly how long that snake skin is, but I can say for sure that I never would want to meet a snake of that size.
Continuing out the back door, we were shocked to find how much more there was to the museum. There were buildings scattered throughout the grounds; each had some type of artwork in them. It almost looked as if it could be used as a conference center – there was a banquet hall, several buildings to sleep in, toilets, sitting areas, etc. Most of these were roped off to keep people out, but there were a few that could be entered. The public toilets had a very unique sign.
More pictures from around the grounds:
I am glad we made the effort to visit. It is a very unique place to visit; very enjoyable. Tima drove us back to town. We had asked her to drop us off at the Hill Tribe Museum. We had a visit booked to visit 2 hill tribes the following day, and wanted to learn a bit about what we would be seeing, as well as to try to understand how to be culturally sensitive on our visit. The Hill Tribe Museum is located in the building above Cabbages and Condoms, a restaurant with a purpose. There is a small admission fee (50 TB). It is a small museum, but worth visiting if you plan on doing a tour that visits any hill tribe villages. There is also a slide show to watch about the different tribes in the area. One thing that stuck out in our visit was that you should avoid visiting the long-necked Karen tribe. The actual tribe is located in Myanmar; the women that you see at the fake village that you will be taken to have been imported as a tourist attraction and live virtually as slaves. It is like visiting a human zoo; these women are exploited
Across the street from the museum is a park. We were very lucky to be in Chiang Mai during January because that is when a flower festival takes place. We enjoyed strolling through the park, looking at the displays. It was quite beautiful.
It was still a little early for lunch, but not too early for a massage! We had picked out Akha Ya for its good reviews and pleasant environment. We opted for 1-hour foot massages. We were very pleased with the massages as well as the atmosphere there; it was very relaxing. Though we had chosen foot massages, the masseuses added in 15-minutes of head, neck and shoulder massage. Bliss!
We had lunch back at the hotel. We were early enough to be able to enjoy their excellent lunch buffet. It was nice to be able to try many different Thai dishes without worrying about how spicy they were. I hate to order a meal and find that I don’t enjoy it because of the spiciness level. The rest of the day was spent working on my blog, uploading my pictures and content for Chiang Mai. Sitting in the lobby, I am able to get a decent enough internet connection, so that is where I will do my work for the time being.
Tomorrow, we are taking a Hill Tribe/Golden Triangle tour, so it will be a full day.