Covered or mentioned in this post:
Chiang Mai zoo and Bo Sang umbrella and handicraft village.
After a long break from blogging I am back with a quick post covering today when we visited the Bo Sang handicraft village with the goal of capturing a couple of umbrellas for show only use in the outside living areas of my new house, still to be built, details of which you can find HERE. As I am having a burst of blogging energy I will also be adding a post on Chiang Mai zoo shortly, which we visited yesterday but got rained out. A re-visit is on the cards.
Bo Sang or Bor Sang or Ban Bo Sang handicraft village, none of which came up on my GPS, can be found on the 1006, one of the spiderweb roads I wrote about HERE. Head out on the 1006 and a few km after the intersection with the 121 you will see signs to Bo Sang pointing you to the left at a set of traffic lights. The entrance to the village or street looks like this:
Thailand is basically like this. You are expecting something historical and composed and you get concrete, traffic and electrical/broadband wires :-). As a resident I have got used to it. As a visitor I wonder how the reality matches the tourist brochures.
Almost immediately on the right as you turn into this road you will find the main umbrella “factory” and large merchandise shop, which I think maybe called Romborsang.
The factory bit is out the back and it is here you can watch the craftswomen literally create umbrellas from bamboo and Sa wood bark.
For me the main attraction is the production line out the back rather than this supermarket of handicrafts so we’ll focus on that.
The paper for the umbrellas is made on-site. It is called Sa paper and is made from the bark of the Sa tree. I read this is the Mulberry tree but I wouldn’t know. Maybe someone can send me a comment to clarify. A good description of the early stages is provided here:
Paper parasols are made in a step-by-step process that begins with a young sa tree. The bark is stripped from the tree and then boiled until soft – this is what will ultimately be the skin of the paper parasol. The soggy bark is then hammered to separate the fibres and remove the softer tissue while later, the fibres are suspended in water and a layer of felted fibres is picked up on a screen and dried to produce the paper that will soon be fitted on the paper parasol. Many places in Asia still continue to make paper using this centuries old craft, although not all of the paper is meant for paper parasols.
If you want an excellent description of the umbrella making process from start to finish you can find it HERE.
The paper starts off looking like the strands hanging behind the guy in this photo and is beaten out by hand as he is demonstrating.
The screens talked about in the explanation above look like this:
You can also select a motif, is that the right word?. Anyway out the back you can get one of the mostly ladies to paint a wonderful pattern on whatever you provide or buy in the shop. You select from a template of patterns or make your own I guess and they will do the rest for a very modest charge.
Outside this extensive centre there are plenty of other shops lining the street of Bo Sang. The two umbrellas I ended up buying were from one of these and a lot cheaper than the ones on offer in Romborsang so shop around. They are large traditional designs with a waterproof covering, although they will end up being under the roofline of the house, one in lime green and the other in a red. Bamboo stands were included at 1,000 THB or A$35.00 for the two. I will update this post with a photo once I have one to share.
It’s not just umbrellas here. There are many other crafty/clothes shops some selling things you see everywhere but some unique items as well.
This was an enjoyable afternoon out and I recommend you add it to your list of things to do here on the tourist culture list. A small umbrella would be a nice visual reminder of your time in Chiang Mai and support the local craftspeople who make them.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks to https://oriental-decor.com/paper_parasols.php