I have submitted my Blog to participate in the "A Story of Conversation, Hug Northern Cities" campaign which is organized by GoNorthThailand.com. It is the community that Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has established for people who love to travel in the northern part of Thailand. The prize for 6 winners from writing Blog along together with their 6 accompany partners that will be 12 people in total will have an opportunity to have 3 days trip to Pai - Wat Chan Pine Forest with the well-known photographer and writer from Thailand Travel Magazine (Mr. Pakphum Noiwat) and I am glad to be one of the winner out of six.
Finally, it is time for our journey. We travel on the 14th of February 2014 which is delightful as it is the Makha Bucha day, an important day in Buddhism. We are arranging to meet at 6 o'clock in the morning and for the travel expense, Air Asia has been our sponsor for this round-trip flight.
07.40AM, we travel with flight FD3445 to Chiang Mai. There are a few mists floating in the sky during the flight.
After takeoff for a while, Air Asia has supported us the in-flight meal as well which we are grateful for that.
After the meal, we continue to admire the scenery from outside the window. It doesn't take a long time to see some high mountains which it seems we are already into Northern part area. I never flew to Northern part route before and I have to admit that the scenery is exceptional beautiful.
Looking above the sky, seeing the thin fog between the mountains and the pilot announce that ground temperature at Chiang Mai airport is around 18 degrees.
An hour has passed, I heard air hostess announced that "We have arrived at Chiang Mai airport already and we are pleased to inform you that we have arrived 20 minutes before the scheduled time" After getting off from the plane, I take photos of the plane for a momento. I admire the dragon design of this plane, I think it's fantastic.
After collect our baggage, we head to Mae Tang district. Our first destination of the trip is Wat Den Sali Sri Muang Kan or renowned under the name of "Wat Baan Den".
Wat Baan Den is located on the low hills surrounded with spectacular landscape. The temple is a combination of Thai and Lanna architecture style. This temple does not focus on performing the religious ritual but it rather focus to be a spiritual retreat. Therefore, the temple is built with the magnificent design to attract the tourist to visit and admire the magnificent design which has morale inserted inside. It is a brilliant idea to draw people close to the religious without their attentiveness; I respect this wistfulness concept.
There are many fascinating areas inside the temple. Let's begin with Library for Buddhist scriptures.
The roof of the library is incredibly beautiful with its exquisite decorative design.
If you observe meticulously, you will see the ornaments of elephants, King Naga, or even cock (or maybe swan)are decorated on the rooftop.
Next to Library is Vihara building, it's one of the remarkable building as well.
The window-lintel has an elaborate decorative design.
The walls of Vihara building is in white color which tell the story of the morals inside.
Golden door-lintel was decorated with peacock figure adding the daintiness with blue and red tiles.
Inside Vihara building was housed the principle Buddha image.
Beside Vihara building will be the pavilion where renowned Buddha image from many areas of Thailand were housed.
Since the area of the temple is quiet spacious but we have a limited time here, therefore, we could only explore some of the area of the temple. During the visit, the temple is under construction and renovates a lot of areas as well.
After visiting Wat Baan Den, we head to Pai district. On the way, we stop over to have lunch at Pankled coffee corner. The concept of the shop is a coffee shop which also has main dish serving.
Most of the menu is one dish serving food. This menu is called "Stir Fried Rice Noodle with Chicken"
"Stir Fried Holy Basil with Fried Egg"
Follow with the dessert and iced coffee.
Pankled coffee corner has a lamp farm area as well. I am absorbed with chatting, therefore, I did not make it in time to take any photo of the surrounding area and lamp farm to everyone this time.
After lunch, we stop over for the restroom only one time, and then we head straight to Pai district area. However, before getting to our accommodation, we visit one small coffee shop along the road called Paina Paita Home for relaxing and sipping some coffee.
The restaurant signboard on the roadside painting with cat figure, I would say the decoration is pretty adorable.
There are small and adorable corners all over the shop. Apart from serving coffee, this place is the accommodation as well.
Khun Kob, the owner of the shop accompanies our group to multi-purpose pavilion where they provide the customer a place to sit and relax. There is an area for preparing the coffee in the pavilion, combining with the stove and old black kettle which are considered to be the antique things of this place.
The desserts that Khun Kob has prepared for us are Banana Cake and Concentrated Roselle Juice that can be well-refresh to boost up our energy.
During the time, Khun Toi, our big brother of this trip from Tourism Authority of Thailand, the administrator of Northern Tourism tells us that at this time of the year is the recovery time of Pai after heavily welcoming the tourist during High Season in the winter time. Pai during this time is moderately dry, the flowers are getting to fall. He also said that Pai has to recover itself for a little while until raining season comes, then Pai will recover to its beautiful once again, the field that looks fairly dry will turn to be verdant again and there will be the mist to watch during the morning time. Khun Toi also said that Pai during raining season is as beautiful as winter season.
For those who adore cat, you would fancy this place as Khun Kob has raised a lot of cats here.
After refreshing ourselves, we went back to our accommodation to keep our baggage and change to tight fitting clothes preparing for the activities.
And the accommodation that we stay tonight is Pai Vimaan Resort.
This is the surrounding atmosphere of the resort , Pai Vimaan has 2 types of accommodation which are 2-storey house like this and another type is villa type in tent style. However, I did not take photo of the Villa type rooms.
This resort is located precisely by Pai river.
My room is at the ground floor. Once I open my room door, I can see a king size bed and there are writing desk, TV and the space for sit back which seems like the balcony at the end of the bed. The room is considerably spacious.
Inside the restroom is divided into wet and dry areas. There are hair dryer and bidet provided as well. The wet area is equipped with Rain Shower.
Stepping up the stairway to the upper floor, you could watch the view from the second floor's balcony.
After keeping our luggage and changing our clothes ready to do the activities, we then continue our journey to next destination at Wat Sri Don Chai.
Wat Sri Don Chai is the first temple of Pai and was built in 1312. The temple is in Lanna architecture style with the exquisitely beautiful wall mural. This small temple is relatively peaceful. I also have a chance to present the offerings to the monk at this temple.
Wat Sri Don Chai situated Phra Phutta Sihing sculpture or Phra Sing of Pai city which is the invaluable antique Buddha sculpture of Pai city. From my observation, I see three Buddha sculptures that have the same feature which are the middle Buddha sculpture situated at the front and other two sit beside on the left and right hand side, I think that Phra Sing Muang Pai is the one that sit at the middle.
After worship the Buddha sculpture and make merit for the propitious, and it is time for the activity. The plan for the activity was biking for reduce global warming around Pai city.
This person will take us to cycling around Pai city. The bicycles that we bike have no gear, however, it does not beyond our ability, and we are doing great. The route that we are going to bike will pass two steep hills; the total distance is approximately 3 kilometers.
On the biking route, we could watch local peoples' life style, astonishing mountains range, Pai River which the amount of water is rather less during the time. I have to admit that on the ride up to the hill, I feel extremely exhausted, feeling like I will stop breathing. As normally I never do an exercise like this before, so I feel tried and couldn't breathe in time. Then we finally reach our destination at Pai county administrative office.
After losing energy from biking, it is time to have some dinner. We will have our dinner at Pai Sud Jai restaurant.
Food varieties from local food such as Chili Paste, Pork Rind including the Middle part food like Stir-Fried Vegetables, Chicken Curry and Roasted Chicken. After dinner, the organizer gives us some free time to promenade. Since today is Magha Puja Day (Buddhist All Saints' Day), therefore, I choose to go to temple for triple circumambulation. And after that I would like to take a walk at walking street.
It is hardly to believe that the small city like Pai, in the area of walking street where I could take a walk would have a lot of temples located. There are 3 temples in total from our resort to the walking street.
First temple is Wat Pa Kharm, a small temple located along the side of the walking street route. The temple is in Lanna style with golden pagoda situated at the middle which the 7 days Buddha images situated around.
Walk a little bit further; there is "Wat Klang" where the big pagoda in Thai Yai style situated in the middle of the temple area. The pagoda was decorated with a lot of bulbs and it looks fascinating during the night time. There is also the arch of 7 days Buddha images surrounded the pagoda as well. I choose to do triple circumambulation at this temple.
Last temple that I visited is "Wat Luang". Whenever I visit Pai, I will park my car at this temple and go to walking street. However, I haven't known before that inside the temple has the ancient big pagoda and spectacular as well.
Triple circumambulation in the temple of Pai city will begin around 7pm in the evening. People can do the triple circumambulation at their convenient time not like the temple in the middle part which the circumambulation time will be clearly fixed.
After admiring the beauty of all 3 temples, I walk back along the walking street once again. It is the 3 days holidays during we visited; therefore, there are a lot of tourists visit Pai. Along the way, I take a walk, shopping and try some local food until I arrive at the accommodation.
During the night time, Pai Vimaan Resort is brightly gorgeous. Thus, I take some photos of the guest rooms' scenery for our viewers. I have a deep sleep this night, it is maybe because of the tiredness from all day journey as I woke up since 2:30am preparing to travel from Lopburi province. Moreover, I have to continue my journey to Pai and bike around Pai as well and lastly I also take a leisurely walk at walking street. I really feel extremely tried.
Next morning, the organizer tells us to meet up at 05.45am. We are traveling to Yun Lai view point which located away from Pai city approximately 6 kilometers. we use the same route to Wat Nam Hoo and Satichol Village. We change the vehicle from van to pickup car. This route will lead up to the hill and some parts of the hill are quite steep. The view point is high from the sea level approximately 440 Meters.
Pick up car parked at the parking lot. I look up to the sky; the sky changes its color from black to pale red instead. I would not wasted anymore time, therefore, I hurried and walk up to the view point. However, as the view point is in the private area so you have to pay for the entrance fee for 10THB.
The word "Yunlai sea mist" in Chinese means the area where the cloud flow and get together similar to Chinese Yunnan people who emigrated from China and could finally resettle to be together. For the time period of seeing the sea mist is during the winter season. However, the thin mist scenery like this is somehow has an altered stunning view. We can as well watch the star at the ground of Pai city, it is exceptional beautiful. Sipping warm tea while admiring the sun rise scenery during morning time like this, it is pretty hard to explain the overwhelm happiness I am feeling right now.
Yunlai view point is one of hundred places for pressing your love to your love one and it is one of twenty places for proposing which I have no doubt about the ranking.
Since Pai has a lot of mountains, hence, the sun rise at the morning time when it rises over the top of the mountains, it will shine strongly which seems similar to a big fried egg. However, its shining is rather beautiful, the light shines through the space between mountains and down through tree range and insert with the thin mist seems like the beam of light, it is incredibly impressive.
Another activity that you shouldn't miss out during morning time is taking some backlit photos. Some people pressing their love through gestures according their own styles, couple or single is alright but the pose that you cannot miss out is the jumping pose.
After taking enough photos at Yunlai view point in the morning atmosphere, we head back to the resort to have a large breakfast as we will go to learn the self-sufficient lifestyle in our next activity.
After breakfast, it is time to learn self sufficient lifestyle which not rely on any technology at Tacomepai.
Tacomepai is a traditional organic community farm in local Yon family way of life run by Khun Sundose Sukkaew who in the past is a factory worker in Bangkok and use to work abroad. However, he eventually decide to come back to live an easy lifestyle in sustainable way of life at Pai. It is the learning center which focus on the way of life that rely on nature such as plating rice, vegetables and raising the animals for food and constructing houses using natural materials and many more. This place could consider as a learning center where you can learn from real life experience with the great innovative idea of Khun Sundose.
After Khun Sandose tells the story of his experiences to our group, he takes us to watch the activities within Tacomepai. Start from visiting the homestay accommodation for the tourist.
Formerly this place does not rely on any technology, however, nowadays there are many foreigners staying and learning way of life here so it is necessary to install Wifi for convenient in communication for the foreigners. They also install solar cell panel for electricity such as the light bulb (in the picture). Khun Sandose tells us that this bulb exclude solar cell panel costs only a few baht, he demonstrates and turns the light on, although during daytime like this, the light is able to illuminate greatly.
Everything in the house relates to various mechanisms such as the water tap in the picture, its valve is made by wood. When opening the water tap, the water will flow along the bamboo gutter which is at the right side of the picture.
The drinking water filter tank made from the authentic local wisdom.
For the washing machine, it also did not use the electricity system either; it is from our feet energy. The bicycle on the left will be connected with the water system and as for the bicycle behind the washing machine is the tool to power the washing machine.
We visit and learn a lot of activities with this adorable cat acting as our tour guide; it guides us to all over the places.
This is a simple mushroom farm, there are mushrooms to pick up and eat every day.
Here, they also plant the coffee bean and produce their own instant coffee for drink.
I feel speechless about the management idea of Khun Sundose, they are brilliant. Tourists from all over the world fly across the countries to learn the nature sustainable way of life here. As you can see from the picture, there is Bamboo Course opens for learning, for those who are interested in this course have to pay 400 baht for the course fee. The course includes learning how to sharpen the bamboo to be the spoon, fork and bowl. I would like new generation of Thais people to realize the importance of the way of life which rely on the nature like this. We have all the good things in our land but we does not aware of the importance of them.
As I have mentioned before that there are rice field, vegetables planting and animal raising here, some of them Khun Sandose doesn't have to do it by himself but the foreigner who come to learn and stay here will do those things for him. They even have to pay the fee for learning how to plant rice, vegetables or dig the soil for exchanging with the knowledge that they could take with themselves and back to their hometown. How was it? This idea is awesome, isn't it? He doesn't have to do any of those, moreover, he could get the production to eat at homestay and even get the learning payment as well.
This lady comes from Malaysia, she studies at Chiangrai province and comes to be the volunteer at this place. She can speak Thai fluently. Khun Sandose asks her to lecture for us and she cooks us lunch as well.
And this is our lunch; rice was cooked by using bamboo tube. Lunch menus are Omelet and Stir Fried Vegetables, the organizer from Tourism Authority of Thailand also prepares Fried Chicken and Chili Paste for us. Moreover, I also have a chance to use spoon and bowl which made from bamboo.
For those who are interested in studying the natural dependency way of life, self sufficiency sustainable lifestyle, you could visit Tacomepai place. It is only approximately 6 kilometers from Pai city center or you could stay overnight at the homestay style in Yon people way of life. The accommodation costs just only 150THB/person/night. In the end, I would like to thank you Khun Sandose for sharing his knowledge with us.
After that, we continue our journey to Memorial Bridge of Pai.
Previously, this bridge is a wooden bridge and was constructed during World War II. Japanese army use this route to travel from Chiang Mai pass through Pai district to Myanmar. After the war, they rebuilt this bridge in Chiang Mai again.
At the present, at both sideway of the memorial bridge area are full of souvenir shops. What striking me the most is that there will be at least one child and one adult dress resembling to Japanese soldier for taking photos with the tourist. It somehow gives us Japanese old day atmosphere.
After walking along the sunlight at Pai Memorial Bridge, we continue our journey on the same route to Chiang Mai. From Pai Memorial Bridge takes approximately 5 kilometers, you will find the junction to take the right turn to Wat Chan Pine Forest. However, our next destination is Wat Chan Royal Project Development Center.
Along the way you will find natural hot springs on the roadside. This hot springs has been surveyed and drilled by Provincial Electricity Authority since 1993. The depth of drilling is approximately 100 meters; however, the hot springs is just bursting out on 22th of August 2013. You could boil or parboil the egg here as you like, there will be the springs burst out for approximate 1 meter high all the time.
After that, we head into Kalayaniwattana district for visiting Wat Chan Royal Project Development Center. This center is the agricultural occupation and farmer income promotion and development center to support the farmer for self-sufficiency livelihood. Moreover, this place is use to be the demonstrative field for testing the new species of plant focusing on the resistance to the disease and the production quality. There are various kinds of vegetable and fruit that produce here.
The first zone that the officer takes us to visit is the area of sorting vegetable and fruit. The sorting process is already done by the time I arrived so I don't have a chance to see various kind of products. For those who come to purchase the products, you need to check the time once again because you will need to purchase the products directly from the farmer by yourselves, the center will not interfere with any of the trading.
Next zone is strawberry plot which most of the plants are grown strawberry; however, the size of strawberry is rather small.
Beside the strawberry plot are various kinds of vegetable plot such as Pointed Cabbage, Head Lettuce, Chinese Kale and many more kinds of vegetable in strange names.
Apart from the vegetable, there are various kinds of fruit here as well. It is strawberry season during the time I visit . As for the flower in the picture is plum flower, white flowers grow in bunches, it is quite attractive. This place plants Orange, Avocado, Persimmon, Plum, Nuan Khum Mango and Pear as well.
There are numerous varieties of seedling cultivation.
I am lucky that I could see the red maple leaves at that time. Although it is not that much but it could make our group feel excited.
There is the three leaves pine forest that set in the wide area. There are big and small pine trees. The pine tree in the picture is the middle size one, its trunk size could hold by one person.
After visited the development center, we head back to our accommodation at Ban Wat Chan Royal Project, this place is taken care under the Forest Industry Organization.
Upon arriving, we get to arrange our luggage in the room first. I stay in the room by the river tonight; it is a big house with 2 bedrooms and 2 restrooms. There is no TV, refrigerator, fan or air-conditioner inside the room. This place is really suitable for relaxing, alike you are cut out from the world outside. However, for those who really addict to TV, you can watch TV at the middle area. There is the reservoir located just behind our accommodation; you can watch the scenery through the window. The scenery is exceptional spectacular.
After keeping the luggage, we have sometimes left; therefore, I go out on biking and look around the area of Wat Chan Pine Forest. There is the rental bicycle service at this place and it is the gear bicycle as well. My first destination, I will ride back on the route to the entrance of Wat Chan Pine Forest as I have seen some grove of fruit tree that is blooming with white flowers, some bunches also have the young fruit which seem like small size of apple. However, I am not sure whether it is the apple tree or not.
I continue biking for a little while until I find the range of maple trees. There are still red maple trees to watch at that time. I think this area might be very captivating during maple leaves change their color.
It is now time for dinner. There are a lot of menus for dinner; however, I forgot to take a photo. After dinner, I hurry back to my room as the weather is getting cold. Tonight I have no need of air conditioner or fan, only a thick warm blanket that I have to depend on.
Sound of the clock ringing at 06.00am sharp, I poke my head out of the window to watch the view. And what I have seen is the white mist all over the place, the reservoir that I have seen yesterday disappear in the mist. Then I continue to sleep up until 7am, I wake up and hurried to take a shower and pack my baggage ready for the journey. After I am done with my baggage, I walk hurriedly to the reservoir and the luck is on me this time, there is the sun with the golden light shines all over places in reservoir area.
Looking from the ridge of reservoir to the upstream, the thick fog during the morning time is getting to fade away, leaving the scenery of the water surface reflects the pine trees' shadow, it is as clear as the mirror.
Then turning back to look at the other side, there is the pavilion in the middle of the field with the atmosphere of the pine forest as the background which the mist intimately closes to the top of the pine tress. The ambiance is ultimate spectacular.
I walk back to the area above the reservoir. This corner is as well magnificent. In some areas seem like the scenery at Pang Oung as people are not crowded. I am not surprised why this year Tourism Authority of Thailand has arranged Wat Chan Pine Forest to be one in ten places in the campaign of "Dream Destinations Once Upon a Time...to go".
I spend quite sometimes at reservoir area, maybe around one hour. The time passes by very fast, it seems I still don't get enough of the happiness in front of me, nonetheless, I am reluctant to hastily walk back to keep up with the breakfast time. I speed my breakfast, hence, I will have sometimes to take more pictures in other places before we get back.
The shop which is opposite to the office is the souvenir shop. There are numerous adorable things, what striking my eyes is this adorable mobile, it is super cute.
Beside the shop, there is a small wooden pathway leading to the exit way in the front. There are many species of tree along the way, full of flower plant and foliage plant. There is moss grows along the bridge railings showing the moist in the air. Supposing that it is winter time, the area of wooden pathway will be full of Nang Phaya Sua Krong flower (Wild Himalayan Cherry), giving the authentic feeling like the scenery in Korea or Japan. I intend to find a chance to come back here again during the winter season.
As our group members as well as the car are ready, we continue our journey to next destination at Wat Pa Daraphirom. During the way we take a break for lunch at Suan Mok Fa restaurant, it is a small restaurant located on the roadside of Chiang Mai-Pai route
It looks as if we travel to the beach as four out of six menus that the organizer has arranged for us are seafood. I am not sure that the owner of this restaurant is Southern people or not or perhaps the owner might like to eat Southern food. Since each menus has the taste of Southern food, such as Budu sauce (a kind of fermented anchovy sauce), Sator Bean and other various menus that related to Southern food. There is a small coffee corner inside the restaurant as well.
From Suan Mok Fa restaurant, we ride only a little while and the organizer takes us to strawberry shop. Each one of us buy one or two boxes of strawberry and once we done with the shopping, we continue heading to Wat Pa Daraphirom.
Wat Pa Daraphirom is the royal temple located at Maerim district. Originally, this area is the deserted cemetery close to Daraphirom royal palace. Later Phra Arjarn Man Phurithat Toh used this area to be a meditation place, and with the people have faith and worship in him; they cooperate to build forest retreats which are monk's dwelling and pavilion. The temple formerly named "Wat Pa Vivek Jittaram" or "Wat Pa Lelai" However, thereafter the descendant of Princess Consort Dara Rasmi has offered the land and change the temple's name to "Wat Pa Daraphirom" as present time.
Upon getting into the entrance of the temple, the main chapel is on the left hand side. This main chapel was built in the occasion that the temple has been promoted to be royal temple. The architecture design was imitated from ancient Hor Khum (glided house) of Chiang Mai ruler, Its carving of stucco and Lanna pattern style is remarkable. Inside the main hall is situated the principal Buddha image in attitude of decorated with King attires seated in royal Mondop (movable throne) with the relics of Lord Buddha inside as well. I have to admit that upon stepping into the chapel, I feel stunned with the impressive-looking. Moreover, it seems that the fund of the construction cost is relatively high with approximately 15 million baht.
Next to the chapel is Phra That (pagoda) of four Buddha's footprints which is the great sanctuary of the temple and region. Inside the pagoda was housed the imitation of Buddha's footprints and Buddha's relics which has been received from H.M.K. Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Besides, one more thing that I highly recommend and don't want you guys to miss out is Mondop Phra Chula Manee Sri Barommathat (Hor Kaew) which located in the middle of the temple. At the beginning, this place is a meditation hall, its architecture style has four roofs in overlapping layers and the top of Mondop is in castle-shaped pagoda covered with Jung Go gold in the mix of Thai-Lanna and Phakultai style.
Inside Mondop Phra Chula Manee Sri Barommathat (Hor Kaew) was enshrined the tooth relic of Lord Buddha, It is extremely spectacular similar to the main chapel.
The temple has written the boards with the poem that gives the good aspect viewpoint for people who visit this place could read and then take the viewpoint in consideration and adapt to use in everyday life. These boards will attach to the trees. During that time, the trees are in full bloom, it is stunningly beautiful.
It's time to head to the airport. We travel with flight FD3432, flight time at 17:30pm in our return journey.
Travel to Pai nowadays is not hassle anymore as now Air Asia has launched the new route service flight with the city transfer round trip Bangkok - Pai and Bangkok - Sukhothai route. You could reserve the ticket in one time, there will be the van to transfer the passenger from the airport to the pick-up point in these two routes. As for round trip of Bangkok - Pai route will take off from Don Muaeng airport to Chiang Mai airport; then there will be the van to pick up the passenger from Chiang Mai Airport to Pai bus terminal. It is rather convenient and fast, you don't have to waste any time looking for the transfer transportation by yourself.
The sky in this evening is spectacular, looking outside the window there is huge fluffy cloud like cotton, making me have an idea of jumping on it.
Air Asia has arranged the dinner meal for us on the plane, the menu for this flight is Chicken Steak.
The huge clouds have become to be the rippled clouds all over the sky. When the cloud lines reflect with the light of the sun which is about to set over the horizon; it could produce the captivating shadow of the light.
I am thrilled with the captivating view of the clouds for a while, when I look outside once again; the view now changed and becomes roofs of the houses all over places. It is the sign that we are now have arrived at Bangkok safe and sound.
This trip I would like to thank you to Go North Thailand group by Tourism Authority of Thailand for holding a great activity like this for Facebook Fan Page and the one that I could not forget to press my thank you is Air Asia, World's Best Low Cost Airline for the 5th year in a row as the sponsor for supporting us everything in our journey such as the air ticket, checked baggage weight allowance as well as the meal served on the plan for our group, I appreciate your support very much.