This morning I decided to take a birthday-ish trip into Chiang Mai to watch movies, enjoy some good food, and explore the city by foot a bit (including the Sunday Market). As usual I also hoped to observe some amusing people along the course of my journeys. And most of my plans worked out well, except that back cramps and exhaustion kept me from staying until the night bazaar opened or from finding one of the items I was looking for.
Today on the way into Chiang Mai I noticed a few unusual tidbits that I had not noticed before. For one, there are several “horse crossing” signs on the 107 going south from the Mae Rim area into Chiang Mai. This is very puzzling to me. A horse would have a very poor chance of crossing that highway alive unless the cars and sung-tows and trucks stopped for it, and that would be unlikely. Then again, they did stop for me early this afternoon in the middle of Chiang Mai near the moat when I had trouble with a pedestrian crosswalk, so perhaps a horse could do it if it were lucky. Another thing I noticed (both on the way into the city and back) was that there were a lot of uniformed soldiers out and about today. Generally speaking, the sight of large amounts of uniformed troops around town carrying their rucksacks is not something that makes me feel comfortable.
This morning, before watching the movie (more on that in a little bit) I had the chance to eat at a new restaurant, where for between $3 and $4 (109 baht) I got the chance to have a lunch meal with a couple of pieces of fried chicken, some tasty fries, and a drink. It was a pretty nice meal, and the chicken was a bit spicy—it reminded me a bit of Popeye’s Fried Chicken. Fried chicken always hits the spot, so I’ll have to keep that place in mind for future movie trips, especially as it’s less than half as expensive as the mediocre pizza place in the same mall. The fact that it is a place that seems to appeal to Thai sensibilities rather than farang ones seems to account for its low prices, but it was a friendly place nonetheless.
Okay, now on to the movie. Before every movie shows in Thailand, everyone is “invited” to stand (I have read that those who refuse to do so can be arrested, and I’m not willing to risk that) while a home video-quality “trailer” of the king of Thailand throughout his life is shown, set to some kind of especially melodramatic Thai song, while Thai words are printed at the bottom of the screen beneath images showing the King’s military prowess, concern for farming, and the adoration of his people for him. So far I’ve seen this video twice, and I still have trouble fathoming why this is shown before English movies without having an English translation. It would be nice what message is being conveyed, or at least intended, by this little propaganda piece, at least.
As far as the real movie I went to see, it wasn’t as good as the book, but few movie adaptations are. Deathly Hallows 2, the last (so far) of the adaptations of the J.K. Rowling books, is a movie that manages to pick up where Part 1 left off. While Part 1 was largely one of those “buddy dramas” of the three heroes hunting horcruxes together and dealing with relationship drama, this movie is more of an action or fighting movie, where the pace is quick and the special effects reasonably impressive. Someone watching the movie who is very familiar with the book can rattle off the chapters as they appear—from Gringotts through The Last Hiding Place, The Prince’s Tale, King’s Cross, and the Flaw In The Plan to its end at 19 Years Later, the Epilogue.
Nonetheless, the movie does suffer a bit in some of its changes that lead to information being lost to the viewer who is not familiar with the book. For one, Harry never gets to challenge Dumbledore about the Hallows, nor does Harry get to talk with Dumbledore’s portrait about the Hallows after dispatching Voldemort. Ginny’s part is cut down dramatically, and Aberforth doesn’t really get to show up his brother either. Nor is the final fight scene between Harry and Lord Voldemort fought in front of the survivors of the Battle of Hogwarts, but rather between the two of them alone. Additionally, the Carrows fail to have speaking roles, the whole Ravenclaw Tower and Grey Lady scenes are drastically cut (and not for the better—the audience never finds out that the Diademcrux was hidden in Albania or that the Bloody Baron was in love with the Grey Lady). All in all, it is a passable adaptation, but hardly a stellar one. But the series is over, at least as far as the original seven books are concerned.
That said, after the movie was done I hiked from to the other side of the old city, enjoyed a fine lunch with some fajitas and ice cream (very tasty) and then examined the Sunday Market. I was looking for some socks, but hunting socks is like hunting for horcruxes, it would seem. The Thais are not particularly known for their love of wearing socks, and I am. I imagine it’s a Pittsburgh thing. You can find sandals, idols, shirts (one of which I got), soap sculptures, elephants carved in wood, what look like balls of string, silk coverings, coin purses, and dresses galore, but not a single solitary sock. Seroiusly.
After a frustrating attempt at hailing yellow sung-tows in the center of town, I decided to walk to the north side of town along the 107, where I ran into Namu, one of the second-year students at Legacy, just before catching my sung-tow home. It was, despite being tiring and involving a lot of walking, a lovely trip. The moat of Chiang Mai and its surviving fortifications are very lovely (especially the redoubt that survives at the northeastern corner of the old city), and a lot of the common people of the area are very friendly, which always helps. Even if you can’t find any socks.