Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bike Ride to Hang Dong 2 - Furniture World

[Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 10pm Thai time]

Lots happening, way behind blogging. Let me finish the bike trip from last Saturday. We arrived in Hang Dong about 12:30pm and there was a huge furniture store so we stopped to look around. When I say "store" it certainly wasn't like a furniture store in Anchorage or elsewhere in the US. It was mostly very open buildings and a lot of stuff was actually outside. It was really more like a museum.We parked our bikes next to the Chinese room and as we walked around a delightful woman discretely began talking to us, explaining what we were looking at.
And inviting us to see other parts. Soon she was back with a tray and a couple of cold sealed cups of water.

At this point, seeing the whole front - India now - I was overwhelmed at the kinds of stuff they had.

There was door after door after door. These two are Chinese, and these are the insides. There were Indian doors and Pakistani doors as well. Not to mention windows. Part of me is wondering whether these are from places that were demolished for high rises or whether they just bought them off of people's houses.

If I were a US interior decorator, I'd spend a lot of time in Hang Dong and simply convince my clients that the wait was well worth what you got. Things weren't not terribly expensive at all. Some of the elaborate Indian doors - not those above - she said were 27,000 Baht - about $755. You could pay that much for a door at Home Depot and not get anything nearly as exciting as these. Of course, the catch is the shipping costs. We didn't get into that since I wasn't buying a door.

Here was a small display under a corrugated steel roof of how you might furnish your room. If we had a room that big.

These men are guarding the Burmese room.

And then there was the room of mostly Indian lamps. Here's is where we broke down. Two small hanging lamp shades for over our dining room table. They assured us they'd pack them so they wouldn't break and we could carry them on to the plane But even if we didn't carry them on they wouldn't break. We'll figure this all out when we get home. Will the work over the dining room table? We'll see.

These are Pakistani beds. There were lots and lots of them.
Here's our host. She apologized that she couldn't speak English - her parents were very poor and couldn't afford school for her beyond a couple of years. But she was so charming and such a great host - very Thai in that regard. As you can guess, this place covered a lot of land.

Bathroom sink anyone? The water worked.

And there were little things too, like drawer pulls, door handles, hat and clothes hooks, and things I wasn't sure about. We bought some drawer pulls too. I have no idea what we're going to do with them, but we'll figures something out.

Here is part of the front of the store that faces the street. As you can see, this place is called the Golden Triangle and you can visit their website yourself. And order an Indian door or a Chinese door, or maybe have a Thai door made. My guess is that most of the website is the Chiang Mai store, not the Hang Dong. As you can see it is a little slicker presentation than here. And while she didn't teach me the pricing code on the stickers until we were in the last room we looked at, the prices she did quote me seemed to be much less than what is on the website. If you were really going to buy a few large items, you could pay for your trip to Thailand and more in the savings you'd get. And the selection is sooooooo much greater.

After the Golden Triangle, we were overloaded. We rode our bikes a little way, but stopped for lunch where we saw the Elvis and the King picture. This was on a street that turned off from the main road and was furniture store after beautiful furniture store. I'm not sure how far it went. Our host had suggested we ride out to a place called Baan Tawai that was 3 km away. We'd had our quota of furniture for the day, but I can imagine there were stores the whole way. Not sure though. There was a whole complex of buildings - most still empty - that looked like it was going to be a furniture store city. Above I peeked into a lamp store that wasn't open.

Here you can see just a small glimpse of this newly built set of shops - as far as the eye could see in the picture - most still empty.

And I couldn't help but take this picture of the exquisity wood doors on this brand new - well I'm guessing it's a house - in the middle of this area with all the storefronts. Well, on second thought, maybe those doors open up into a store, with the house on top. As I say, this would be an interior decorators dream trip.

Now, let's talk about beauty and consumption. We are in a phase of our lives when we are trying to get rid of things, not take in new things. We aren't the sort of people who economists say make the economy work. And I think we have to have a new level of equilibrium in our economy so that we don't keep wasting so many resources just to package the things we buy, let alone the resources for the things themselves. We try to limit our purchases to things that have practical use, that we need, and that bring aesthetic pleasure. I think beautiful things are probably calming. But we want things that are seriously beautiful and will continue to bring that satisfaction for years and years. So, our temporary fix of a dining room lamp, a Japanese paper globe that has some tears in it now, is in need of replacement. So the two lampshades, theoretically, are a purchase that has a practical use and one that we have a need for. Whether we will be able to get enough light inside these lampshades and then out into the room is another questions. But for us this was like walking through a museum of of beautiful pieces of art, pieces that also happened to have price tags.

We biked back to the Golden Triangle, picked up our purchases, crossed the street and hailed a yellow song thaew. The driver got out, climbed up to the roof, untied the giant bungee cord, and I passed up the two bikes and he put them in place and tied them down. In 20 minutes we were in downtown Chiang Mai, and biked the rest of the way home.

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