It seems that in the past weeks I have been attending increasing numbers of festivals. After sampling a wide range I can say with some authority that there are more similarities than differences between the differing celebrations. The venue and the occasion remain unique. The food stands however, do not. It is perhaps comforting to know that you will always find piles of noodles in varying widths that can be heaped with bean sprouts, peanuts and sugar. There are without question always stands frying tiny pink splayed sausages and others with vats bobbing with silky meatballs. There are also, the same variety of souvenir stands – Lana woven bags, frilled and bowed shirts, odd wooden plaques, and overlarge key-chains. It is as if the same vendors are on constant rotation between towns.
What changes is the theme, at least a few more stands of a particular item, or in some cases a profusion of one particular item. In Bo Sang it was Umbrellas, In Sappong it was Strawberries, in Chiang Mai it was flowers.
To offer an example – when TaReva and I drove out to Chiang Dao (72 km away from Chiang Mai) we found ourselves in the midst of a local Winter Festival with all the usual trappings and in addition: beauty pageants, fried toast on a stick and the most bizarre pet stand I have, and probably will ever see. It consisted of a wall of pastel colored cages each containing a miniature bunny that could fit into my palm. Not weird enough? Now put small baby doll clothes on all the bunnies.