only just noticed that it is mayday. this morning we walked up to the gem trading street. many little shops along the road and side streets, all devoted to selling gemstones. they have an odd system here. if you want to buy gems, there are tables in the shops where you can sit, put up a sign for what you are looking for, and the sellers come to you. the sellers are walking all over the area with shoulder bags of gems, looking for buyers seated at the tables. opposite of the way business is usually done. interesting. and of course there are shops selling cut gems, jewlery, gem cutting and polishing tools, scales and everything associated with the business. lots of pretty rocks there, and i havn't a clue what is what, or what is worth anything. so i just took pictures. i did buy some rough stones at a shop we passed by. apparently, the stone comes from mozambique. they put the raw stone in kilns here, and "burn them" which changes the raw stone into gemlike material, from which they can polish the 'burned' stones and make beautiful cut gems. my daughter is into rocks, she's taking the jewlery design program at north seattle community college, so i thought she might like these. i bought a raw stone, a burned stone, and a polished stone. the dealer threw in a few small cut stones to go with the deal. all for 31.00 USD. i have no idea if i got a good deal, no deal, or a bad deal, but it was fun. man did they start bringing out the trays when we were there longer than a couple of minutes. tough business these days tok told me.
we spent the rest of day at the durian festival, set up all around the lake at the King Taksin monument, in the center of chanthaburi. there is of course, many food stands and rows of stuff for sale, but the highlight are the floats on the lake, covered in fruit, depicting thai scenes - mountains, waterfalls, the budda mountain, fishing. you know how the rose parade in the states has floats made out of flowers? same idea, except they use fruit and rice. the big activites are tomorrow, but we walked around the lake. it started raining, so we took refuge at the massage tent! toks cousin was working there. we got foot massage (60 baht for 1/2 hour - 1.90 USD) and i went for whole body massage (120 baht for an hour - <3.00 USD) ahhhhhhh. we had food, particular foods that you can only find in chanthaburi provice, some shopping and looking around.
tok lived here for 14 years. she was a school teacher, her daughter was born here. she took me to see the school where she worked. as we were driving by the back, a women by the road called out Toks name. it was a friend who recognized her. the women and tok chatted for a while. there was a regular swimming pool right there, with a few people swimming. tok told me that her friend taught her to swim in the other pool at the school. she said when she was learning to freestyle swim, if she stuck her head out the the water, her friend would hit her on the head with a long piece of plastic pipe she carried as she walked along side the pool coaching the swimmers. from there we went to out to what used to be very countryside, tok showed me the house she used to live in, set back behind some newer houses. we came upon some people sitting beside the road and stopped. the olderwomen recognized tok after a moment and was so happy to see her. her male friend was drunk, and very happy to see me (that happens alot. i'm very attractive to drunks for some reason) the women was toks old neighboor. she was very excited to see us, and very please to see me with her, she wished up long and happy life. this happens frequently. whenever i'm introduced, or more precisely, when ever i'm encounted by friends, relatives or accouaintences of tok, they are very pleased to see me with her, and have kind things to say to me. i understand this just from the way they look to me, and i catch a few words here and there. i'm a lucky man.
this internet cafe computer keeps crashing when i try to get to my photos, so yall will just have to wait on them.
we're off to see the "beautiful women" contest. the Durian Qween?????
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