Bo Sang Umbrella Shopping – We spent one afternoon at Bo Sang village, an off-the-beaten-path craft village about nine kilometers east of the Old City of Chiang Mia. This little souvenir oasis is well know for making paper umbrellas, paintings, and other Thai handicrafts. We hadn’t bought many souvenirs along our trip and it was time to stock up before crossing into Laos.
We hitched a ride in the early morning hours in a truck/bus for a few cents. We seemed to be traveling during rush hour and various business folk hopped on and off the back end of the pickup truck. I never know if the transport we sometimes take is genuine, or if it’s just a fellow that wakes up says, “hey, perhaps I’ll throw a tarp over my pickup back end and drive people around to make a dollar or two.” Regardless, we made it to Bo Sang and were ready to shop.
Finding our Treasures – We quickly toured through the demonstration building to see the “umbrella building” process and then zeroed in on the smaller stands dotting the narrow, unpaved alleys. There was a plethora of unique, hand-painted umbrellas and other fun Thai-wares to buy. All of the umbrellas were made from the bark of the mulberry tree, also called sa paper, and there were hundreds of every size, shape, and color. No two were alike, and many depicted beautiful, hand-painted designs of flowers, birds dragons and Thailand’s rural scenery.
I always try to find at least one piece of art in each country I visit. I usually stumble upon a special painting, a wood carving, or some type of small sculpture, and Bo Sang did not disappoint. My favorite purchase of the day was a 2’x3′ oil painting of a lily pond done in bright blues and greens. The selling price was $7 (US) so I didn’t bother to try to negotiate, and happily handed over the money. We also bought some painted umbrellas and large wall fans for our someday-apartments or houses (maybe). Though our daily budgets were blown, it was a successful day for souvenir shopping.