Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bo Sang Umbrella Festival

This week was the Bo Sang Umbrella Festival.  Bo Sang is a small village area just about 10 kms out of Chiang Mai.  We were told that Friday night was a parade and ceremony.  Since we had a half day of school because of Teacher Appreciation Day (which is a whole other story), we decided to head out to celebrate!

We went with friends a little information about what to expect other than umbrellas!! We were not even that sure how to get there or where it was.... adventure right!?! We found a sign that said we needed to turn and when we got up to the intersection we found out we could not turn because it was right there! We found a great parking spot and let the adventure begin.

This is the entrance.... beautifully covered in umbrellas!

We walked in and were instantly confused!  There was a crowd formed with people sitting on both sides of the road, however seated very differently.  On one side was 'normal' people sitting on the sidewalk or on small stools, chatting away, with little groups all over.  On the other side was elevated stage with couches and chairs and special people sitting. We still dont know who those people were but they were special.  They had only pink, yellow, or blue shirts. Representing/honoring the royalty is our assumption because I think those are their colors.  There were podiums on one side and speakers making announcements.  Occasionally something was said in English but it was hard to hear so we really had no idea what was happening!

We decided to keep walking because it looked like the action was up ahead.  As we walked we past lots of umbrellas, lining restaurants and shops. Sometimes they were set up in fun things like this heart where you could go behind and take your picture!  It was very popular.

As we kept walking we finally ran into the parade! It was so cool.  We could hear the marching band before we could see them.  Yes it was night time but still a very lively parade. And escorted by a car nonetheless.

It really was an all out marching band! It was so fun. They played familiar tunes and we were dancing along like we would at home.

After them was a group of women dressed in white with white umbrellas.  Sorry for the blurriness but you get the idea.

Then there were pageant girls.  The girl in the middle was so so so so tall. Let me rephrase. She was TALL for Thailand!  We think she was about 6-4 with her 3-4 inch heels on.... Here that is very tall! The girls were beautiful though.

We were then surprised to see this beauty drive past!

Different pageant girls and boys!  As you can see they were holding banners similar to parades in the States, though we could only read the numbers.

More beauties being escorted on samlaws - three wheeled bicycles. 

As you might have guessed by now there were lots and lots and lots of what seemed like beauty pageant girls, all dressed differently and escorted semi-differently.  We are now on to being escorted, rather carried, by men.

More girls being carried by men.  As you can see people were still walking around and sometimes through the parade.  The atmosphere was very different.  Still lively but different.  People would run up, put there kids next to the person and take their photo, or just take photos of the people in the parade.  It was interesting!

 There were also lots of people playing music, which kept things loud! All kinds of different instruments were used, though mostly percussion.

Now we are entering the float like section of the parade.  These trucks were covered in umbrellas and lights. Each of them had a picture of the king or the queen and a girl, sometimes very young, sitting on a throne of sorts.  They did not wave or anything but sit and sometimes smile.

Oh also there were groups of people in between wearing matching clothing and carrying matching umbrellas. Sadly again we are uncertain of who they were or why they were there.

This is the turning point of our night right here! Suddenly the processional stopped.  We waiting where we were standing for about 5 minutes and still no movement. So we decided to keep walking.  We walked all the way to the end, which seemed to be forever, and back before it started moving again.  This seemed to not be standard as everyone was confused, tired, and restless.  We felt so bad for those wearing heels or uncomfortable costumes, and for the men carrying the women! It was so bizarre.

More elaborate floats

People dressed up as llamas.  They danced a little too.
 Another beautiful float

Umbrellas everywhere. Being carried, hanging, and acting as lights. It was beautiful.  Oh also you can notice the 30s everywhere. This was the 30th anniversary of this festival so again big celebrations.

 Standing in front of a wall of umbrellas!

We walked back to a section that advertised watching people make the umbrellas, but when we got back there no one was doing it.  It was sad but we still got to see beautifully hand made umbrellas.

They varied in size and design.  This one is probably 6ft in diameter.  There were some with elephants and people and scenery and everything you can imagine! Gorgeous.  The colors are amazing.

As soon as we walked out from there we saw fireworks.  No Thai celebration is complete without them! They were very fun though short.

Here is the umbrella that we bought.  It is about 3ft in diameter and cost us 50baht which is less than 2 dollars! We love the addition of color to our very white house!

After our adventures we were very hungry.  We went out to a true Italian restaurant and enjoyed ourselves. It was lovely.  Another wonderful night. 

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