One day we went out looking for local artists. Lertsark Bangkaew paints these funky, quirky elephants. The oil originals are about $60-$100 whereas the prints are only $6. Each year he changes his style. This is a 2009 style, which I like. (You can check out his page by clicking on: Lertsark Bangkaew's studio.)
It's great to have the time and be able to chat a bit with the local folks. We learn so much more about the country when we spend time with them.
Good inexpensive journals are everywhere in Thailand. The leather one (on the right) you see here was $9 and the cloth one was $6. I waited until the last day before we left and took all my change to the very sweet lady selling leather goods on a folding table on the sidewalk. She gave me a big discount (at least I think it was a big discount) on this leather refillable journal. The pages are tied in through the back. After I'm done with the current paper inside I can reload it with watercolor paper. The snap closure is great because it protects the pages as I slide it into my travel pack or backpack.
Ruth picked up the cloth runner you see above from the "Long Neck Village" lady you saw yesterday. In this small way we give them some income. They live in extremely poor conditions, in tiny huts and mud floors. Buying these items provides some food and shelter and keeps the young girls off the streets. It's a very sad situation for them. While we were there we taught two of the kids some English words. I was amazed at how sharp they both were. They pickup the sounds quickly and imitated me perfectly. Perhaps the next generation will have a chance at better living conditions. We wanted to stay longer to share with them some positive things but had to re-join the rest of the tour group. Next time I'll come better prepared.
We have many great memories of our trip to Thailand. Most of the people we met were friendly and seemed happy to meet us (more than can be said for the foreigners we met yesterday). They were always ready to help despite the pressures they felt of the oncoming flood.
We look forward to returning someday.
The happiest asks directions, even though he knows the way.