There is a big tourist shopping area just below Doi Sethup and we are to visit the “Jade Factory” located there. It looks like a tourist trap.
It seems like it might be better to remain here and watch the vendors fly their paper butterflies as they seek buyers for these and other trinkets.
But, of course, I don’t.
At the “factory” they offer us lovely iced teas and usher us in for a presentation. I really want to hate this, but the presenter (the wife of the owner, but obviously an active participant in the business herself) is knowledgeable, erudite, and funny. Besides providing scientific information on jade and other materials that often masquerade as jade, she tells stories (with examples) about some of their own spectacular failures (stone that were purchased because they looked to be valuable and turned out to be worthless) and successes (a worthless looking stone that when cut, proved to be incredibly beautiful, rare, and very valuable lavender jade). Throw in a few Burma jokes and she has me totally won over. By the time she is done, I’m actually eager to give her some of my money in exchange for a beautiful bauble or two.
Unfortunately, everything seems really expensive. Furthermore, while most of it is exquisitely worked, I just don’t find it particularly interesting. I’m actually thinking I’ll leave without spending anything when I stop by to see what Annette is looking at.
There, laid out on the counter, are a pair of exquisite necklace and bracelet sets (one each in white and yellow gold). The clean, modern design incorporates multiple colors of jade. Annette is right, they’re perfect. Even a bracelet costs way more than I should spend, but there is no doubt that it is going home with me – which, Lane assures me, means I am paying too much for it. (I hate having to bargain.)
Despite the time it takes to actually make up my mind and make my purchase, I am not the last one to finish shopping, leaving us with time to sit out on the shady patio drinking ice tea and admiring the orchids and other interesting items standing about. (I think the money tree is a good luck thing.) It is a lovely place to relax.
A spirit house stands at the edge of the parking lot.
I love these small structures erected to placate the spirits of the land for the intrusion of a house, business, or other activity. The range from small, simple homemade constructions to the large elaborate figures found outside prosperous businesses. Some properties sprout multiple spirit houses – often added when bad luck strikes or in order to ward off potentially bad luck. In most cases the spirit houses are freshly dressed with flowers, fruit, and other offerings. Seldom does one seem neglected or poorly maintained.
Below the parking lot a stream tumble away from us down the mountainside.
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