Feel the hill life – Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son written by TipOnTheRoad

29 September 2020 (before the trip) I have a plan for long trip in October as it is almost end of rainy season and starting the winter season in Thailand (even winter is not real winter) especially in the mountains side. This trip in the plan will start from fly to Chiang Mai from Ba

Feel the hill life – Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son

Feel the hill life – Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son

 Tuesday, October 6, 2020 12:55 AM

 Travel date:  Wednesday, September 30, 2020


29 September 2020 (before the trip)

I have a plan for long trip in October as it is almost end of rainy season and starting the winter season in Thailand (even winter is not real winter) especially in the mountains side. This trip in the plan will start from fly to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and then directly go to Mae Hong Son by minivan (there are 8 members this time with 7 persons fly from Bangkok while one person live in Chiang Mai). We will go from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son from the South side and then return from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai from the north side. So, we will go around as circle this time.

30 September 2020 (Chiang Mai – Mae Hong Son)

We (Pueng, Jeab, Nikki, Tack, Ken, Kob and myself totally 7 persons) departed from Bangkok with Thai smile by morning flight at 7.55am (as always that I prefer to take morning flight to save more hours on arrival day for visit more place). And arrived to Chiang Mai on time. After got luggage then we get on the van and continued to Mae Hong Son. Kavin is another one person but since he lives in Chiang Mai and he will be our tour guide this time so he waiting for us in Chiang Mai.

At the beginning we plan to take the road to Mae Hong Son from the south side then continue to Pai and return to Chiang Mai then this trip will move around like circle. But Kavin told us that road was risky now with the land slide because of rain. So, we changed the routing to take the road to Mae Rim side and pass Pai and go direct to Mae Hong Son as we want to keep Pai on the way return to Chiang Mai.

We arrived Pai around 2pm and it is lunch time so we dropped at Pai city center to get quick lunch at local ala cart menu. We spent only 30 minutes for lunch and then get on the van and continue to Mae Hong Son. 


It took around 2 hours and on the way we stop at Kiw Lom View point to get some nice shots.


We finally reached to Mae Hong Son around 4.30pm and checked in at Fern Resort http://www.fernresort.info/ 


We booked room in advance and as during this season we got very special promotion so we all stay in Single room. 


This small boutique resort is very nice but it suite for people who want to stay closer to nature and away from social. They do not have TV in the room but all other facilities are prepared. 


My room is located near the small stream so the natural sound like I’m in spa, I like it.


When I opened all curtains then I can see green garden around my room which is very nice view. They have small swimming pool with (now) green rice field. What a perfect scenery they have.


Open air lobby is lovely with decoration by the local fabric to be pillow cover, table runner, chair sheet etc., and most of all staff wearing hilltribe dress as uniform. So nice!!!

After checked in and keep the luggage in the room. We left for night market because during this Buddhist Lent Day, people here are busy with the festival. Lucky us to come during the period so we can enjoy seeing beautiful “Jong Para” parade and night market.


We love either night market or morning market so whenever me any friends travel outside Bangkok we always find and enjoy local food at the market.


There are lots of food stalls at the market today. 


And because of the festival we saw lots of people wearing their traditional dress which is very beautiful.


We were enjoyed walking and pick and eat street food at the market.


There are many menus that we never try. Then we try and enjoy.

We left the market around 7pm after full with food and drink and then we return to hotel because today is very long day from Bangkok till Mae Hong Son so we want to take rest and continue program for tomorrow. 

1 October 2020 (Mae Hong Son)


We woke up early morning (5.30am) today as we want to experience local food at morning market. 


So, we left hotel around 6.30am and heading direct to the “Sai Yud Market or Talad Sai Yud” which is local morning market in Mae Hong Son. 


The meaning of “Talad Sai Yud” is the market opens only in the early morning every day. And selling local food mainly. 


The must try menu as Tua Pooh Oon, Congee, Khanom Jene or Rice Noodle and Thai Yai desserts such as Suai Tamin, Beng-Mo, Hlawa. And there are lots of Thai dessert as well.

What we tried today is noodle with (almost clear) curry. The curry with fish can, at first sight we can not imaging the taste of this noodle until we try with first s, spoon. I like this taste, I can say.


Noodle is thinner than in central part while the curry a bit spicy but a bit sour and salt.

She put bean sprout and sliced fresh cabbage, sugar, piece of lemon on the table in case we ant vegetable and some more sweet and sour.


Here we met a solo traveler “Hayo” he work and live in Thailand for more than 14 years and he love Thai food. He was at the same noodle shop considering to try the noodle which we ordered or not. Tack who is the most talkative in our group say hi to him and invited him to join our table and try same menu with us.

He accepted our invitation and enjoy the noodle but something surprise is he is only one who put chili powder while all of us think that this noodle already spicy!!!

After talking during breakfast then we know that Hayo also planning to continue to Pai and Chiang Mai same as us but he did not plan any thing yet as this is his first time to this province. Then again Tack invited him to join the trip with us as we are in minivan which can accommodate up to 10 persons. So, we got new friend from this trip…..hahahahaha

Everyone finished noodle but it is not only noodle for this morning. There are many food stalls in the market and got attached by the Thai traditional dessert.


This market selling cooked food and dessert and the prices is between 1-20 Bath only. So cheap!!!


Besides of the cooked food, this market selling other products like raw food, dried food, all kitchen amenity, ingredient for all menu, cloth, flower etc.,


We walked and tasted around the market until we do not have any space in our stomach anymore so we all agreed to leave market and continue our program.


Today we will visit one of a famous community in Mae Hong Son called “Ban Muang Pon Shan Village" which located in Khun Yuam district area along the highway no.108 (Khun Yuam – Mae Lanoi) 12 km. away from the district. Explore the original architecture of Shan houses and life styles. Experience the local wisdom of the bamboo weaving, Shan massage “Bieb Yah” and Shan food and Shan clothes. Take part in the great Buddhist Lent Festival by making and decoration the Castle called Jong Para to parade Buddha image to the temple according to the beliefs of Shan.


We heard that this village is famous for visitor who look for and experience local life. To join the local people’s routine, try to do handmade products like local people do. This village is around 1.30hrs from Mae Hong Son.

When we reached to the village our driver suggested us to visit small temple with Myanmar style. As we are Thai so every time if we try to start the day trip with visiting temple to get good luck and bless from the monk.


After visit the temple then we started the village tour. There is a local guide who also live in this community took us to the first stop which is “snack” and we tried this menu.

It’s looks like Samosa but inside they put bean and chili paste and I smell turmeric. It is very good snack and delicious.


After tried snack he took us walked to another house which there is a young girl busying with weaving the fan, hat and keychain. He told us that this his only one family who doing this kind of handmade.

She is very expert for weaving and look it is very easy but when we try it seem very difficult.

Then better we buy the finished one. We all got one and you can see how nice the fan and this is only 100 Baht.

We left the girl and walked to another house where an aunty busying with making box by banana leaf. She said that tomorrow is Buddhist lent day so she preparing the small box to put food, dessert for the festival. 


And the flower which she picked around her house also prepared for tomorrow festival as well.

Next stop he took us to another house which an old man is busying with drawing something and cutting colorful paper to decorate “Jongpara” for festival tomorrow as well. We all agreed that this one is beyond our skill so we moved to another house.


An aunty at this house is busying with preparing the flower and banana leaf box same as first house but this one also making bamboo hat. 


Jeab who love weaving product wants to by a hat and I’m the person who have to be her model to see how it look like. 


And after I show her how to wear it then she bought this one.
It’s 1.30pm already. We forgot to check the time because we were enjoyed activities with local people. 


Even we all are Thai but some activities we never try or see it before.

It’s lunch time and the guide took us to another house to meet with lovely aunty. She cooked for us with simple menu.

But all are so good!!!

I like this one the most.

I like this idea to put rice in the ice box to keep it warm longer.

After lunch the guide suggested us to try signature spa. After walked around the village then we relax with warm water. There are some other tourist and we saw they tried wrapped their knees with blended herb. 


The therapist said it can heal the people who have problem with their knees. Unfortunately, we came at the same time with another group so if we want to try this menu then we have to wait around 1 hour so we decided to leave. But I want to feel how it is when they put that herb on our leg and wrap it. 


So, I tried with my ankle. It cold because they blended lots of herb and mix with alcohol and put all in the refrigerator around 2 hours.

We left the village and returned to Mae Hong Son around 3pm and reached to resort for refreshment because today we will follow the decision of Nikki, he wants steak.


Hern Home restaurant is small café with retro style decoration (which I like very much).which my friend recommended.

We ordered main course for each and mix fruit and vegetable salad for share.

The taste is not bad but it is not up to outstanding. After dinner we spent around 1 hour just for talking and checking all photos we took from the village to day. We all agreed that today program is perfect.

After that we left to Hotel as we have to pack our luggage because we will move to Pai tomorrow.


2 October 2020 (Mae Hong Son – Pai)


After breakfast we left hotel around 8.30am and heading to visit a small hilltribe which the receptionist at Fern Resort recommended. The name of the village is “Baan Na Phu Kae”. This hilltribe village is not the normal hilltribe village which waiting for tourist and selling their souvenir. 


But they have their own life. Men went out for farming while women stay home to take care children and weaving and making brass accessories. Besides of their own hand made products. They are an Akamae supplier. Akamae – they offers programs for both fashion designers and non-designers, that connect you to remote refugee communities. The Co-creation with Communities Training allows you to experience yourself and each other with a new lens. It provides a practical toolkit to effectively connect with communities and develop mutually beneficial businesses and projects. You will gain experience living and working with a remote refugee village here and ultimately, make the co-creation model your own.

We took longtail boat around 20 minutes from the pier and we were lucky arriving on time which they have group visitors to the village and they preparing to have some activity and they invited us to join.

We were enjoyed making our own design bangle. It’s not easy because we have to make smash the brass from round shape to be flat shape and after that burn it and then carving. But everyone happy to try as we want to see how nice is it.

We spent one hour there and I think the most happy man is Hayo as he is foreigner so handing hammer and smash on the brass is very easy for him. 


However, at the end we all get our own bangle as a souvenir.

And we decided to have lunch with local food here. And here are our lunch.

After lunch we spent time for shopping and joined their fun activities. 


Then left there around 1.30pm and then heading to Pai. But we will stop by one place call "Ban Jaboh" which is the Black Lahu community where we can take a deep breath of fresh air, sip a dripped coffee top recharge before continue to Pai (this place was requested by Pueng who love drinking coffee). We got small tip from the village's leader that "Jah" always put in front of the men's name while "Nar" will put in front of the women's name. This is their culture. 

The view here is amazing. We ordered and then enjoy taking many shots from their terrace.

I like this kind of view, infinity mountain view.

We departed from Ban Jaboh and then continue direct to Pai. After 1.30hrs from Ban Jaboh then we reached to Pai. And because today we spent the time outside and experience many activities and some friends (especially Jeab) needs massage. So, we chose Sapaiya Spa https://sapaiya.com/. I chose head, neck and shoulder massage. The quality and services is good, I like their signature oil for massage people who take a long drive. All smell are good and make us free relax but anyway, I preferred Thai massage.

We spent 1.30hrs for massage and then checked in at Reverie Siam Resort https://reveriesiam.com/ . This one was chose by Kob because she got good deal.

I like their room. I love this style of decoration and color. Bathroom is large and full facilities.


And their restaurant is also look nice so we decided to have dinner at hotel today. They are famous with western food but today the chef is very kind so he cooked Thai food for us. And below is our menu.


This one is not Thai food but as Nikki wants one western menu so we chose this one.


Hayo was very enjoy the food today (he loves Thai food). And we finished all menu. Food are good and the prices is reasonable.

We left for bed time around 10pm and preparing for program tomorrow which we will wake up early again.

3 October 2020 (Pai-Chiang Mai)
5.30am we work up and left hotel for local breakfast as we want to try a famous congee and soy milk. So, hotel arranged shuttle for us. We were enjoyed our local breakfast but we also want to try breakfast at hotel as well because we stay only one night here.

And this is our breakfast at hotel.

Here is only first menu but they also have a la carte menu which we can choose as well.

We were ready and start cycling trip around 8am. And today the weather is so good. We ride around the city then continue to the first temple of Pai.


Wat Si Don Chai – the first temple in Pai. There is a long history before WW II. In 1478, a new temple and moat was built. A Buddha statue called “Phra Buddha Sihing, or Phra Singh” was brought all the way from Chiang mai to this new temple. Moreover, Phra Wachira Panyamahathera from Wat Bhoda Ram and 5 senior monks from Chiang rai and Phayao were invited to give villagers a lecture. Later, the temple was named “Wat Sri Don Chai”, which came after the village Ban Don and the town rulers’s name. In 1581, King Naresuan brought an army to uang Pai to train them and let them pay respect to Phra Singh. 


During the time, King Naresuan stayed at Khum Chau Luang Muang Pai Prasat Ho Kham Chaofah, which is the location of the hospital of Wiang Nua Distric at the present.

After tour we return to hotel and checked out and find some quick lunch before we continue to Chiang Mai.

On the way we stopped at the bridge of memorial.

Tha Pai Memorial Bridge or Tha Pai World Wide II – this antiquated-looking steel bridge is indeed a compulsory stop for tourist for a selfie or three, and is also an historical venue after all, though it is no longer the original one with a wooden structure that preceded the one you see now. During WW II, the Japanese army wanted to have a route from Chiang mai to Mae Hong Son to attack Burma which was a colony of the United Kingdom at that time. To establish the route, the bridge was built over the Pai River in 1941 using elephants to drag trees from the jungle and forcing villagers to work. After the war, Japanese soldiers left and burnt down the bridge. However, the villagers was in trouble because the bridge was very important for their daily life, and rebuilt the wooden bridge over the Pai river. In August 1973, there was a huge flood that caused damage to all the paddy fields, farms and also destroyed the bridge. Pai district office asked Chaing mai province for permission to have the “Nawarat Steel Bridge” to replace the ruined bridge. In 1975, the Nawarat Bridge was transported to Pai, Mae Hong Son and it took 1 year to complete the works.

We reached to Chiang Mai late evening so we checked in at Thee Vijit Lanna in the city center of Chiang Mai. 


This is new boutique hotel in very good location. It is just walking distance to Tha Pae gate which is very popular for night market.

After checked in at hotel and refreshed then we left hotel for dinner. Today dinner is with western style (since this trip is long trip so we tried many type of food).

And this is our dinner.

Appetizer


I preferred fish while some ordered beef and pork for main course.


And this is dessert.

Food are good and the prices is very good as they have special promotion. So, I recommend this one http://www.ratilannachiangmai.com/

We left the restaurant but still did not want to go back to hotel because some of us did not visit Chiang Mai for long time and today is Saturday so there is night market on Wualai street tonight so we dropped by their and enjoyed walking and shopping local products.

We returned to hotel a bit late as all were enjoyed shopping.

4 October 2020 (Chiang Mai)


Today is first breakfast in Chiang Mai so we want to try local food at the market. So, we woke up at 6am and everyone ready at lobby at 6.30am. We left hotel by local truck (red truck) and paid 20 Baht per person then we reached to the market. 


We walked around the market to check what we want to eat and finally we got menu. There are 4 persons want to have noodle while the rest prefer congee so we separated.


I like this noodle. It is difference recipe and ingredient when compare with the one which we had tried in Mae Hong Son but both are delicious.

I ordered Thai americano with ice. And the taste is so good (only 20 Baht).

There are some nice cooked food which we can take away. But our stomach do not have any space after we finished noodle so we have to skip other food.

After that we returned to hotel and waiting for the time to enjoy the day tour. Today we will go to visit local village call “On Tai Sustainable Community Experience” the place where we can try to do weaving, fabric dye and we will try food with farm to table concept.

We left hotel and heading to "On Tai village"


We tried to clean the yarn with the wild pork hair.


And start the tour with fabric dye. We tried the most easy one. It is only scarf and it is very funny that Hayo took tried to do the same style with me. We have to bundle the fabric as much as possible. And then chose the color which I and Hayo chose the same color which is purple (they have 2 colors which is Yellow and Purple). We put all scarf into the boiled color in the big pan and wait around 30 minutes.

While we were waiting for the color then the guide took us to the vegetable farm to pick herbs and ingredients to cook local food for our dinner today.


We all enjoy this activity especially Hayo. And we got more friends as there were another group booked this tour as well so we joined together.


Cooking is not difficult for me as normally I cook at home. But to cook the menu which I never tried before is not easy. However, finally we finished our food.


And our group and another group joined dinner together. 


It was fun dinner when we found new friends and we exchanged our experience during our trip to each other.


Around 8pm we left the village and spent around 45 minutes to the city. Since Nickki travel to Chiang Mai for first time so he wants to go shopping at night market so we all accompany him.

He got good t-shirt and other girl got some items as well. Hayo did not join us to the market as he came to Chiang Mai many times.

We reached back to hotel around 10pm with very low body battery (low energy). So, we say good night and go to our room.

5 October 2020 (Chiang Mai)


Today we had breakfast at hotel because the set menu which they suggested to us is the fried chicken with chili paste top on the Japanese steam rice and side dish is Thai omelet. After we were enjoyed local food during the trip which is not too much spicy so we start missing spicy food now.

The taste of the food is so good so all of us ordered same menu.

After breakfast we separated to spend free time and wait for check out time. Some enjoy swimming at the pool. Some enjoyed reading the book at the restaurant while I was enjoyed writing the memories from 6 days trip.

12.00pm is checked out time so we were ready at lobby with all luggage. But our plan had changed. I will extend one more night in Chiang Mai as I want to experience hot air balloon in Chiang Mai ( I had tried in Chiang Rai and I like it so much ). During this Covid-19 period they offer very special promotion and as Kavin is in Chiang Mai so we both will try it tomorrow.

This trip is long trip and long distance which we spent many hours in the van. But there were lots of good memories along the way. We got new friend like Hayo which we incidentally met in Mae Hong Son and continued joining us till the end of program (even he extended stay in Chiang Mai while we return to Bangkok.


We got variety of experience from this trip. I sang a song with a kind grandmother at hilltribe village. Hayo got us as new Thai friends. Tack got new foreigner friend. Nikki got good steak. Jeab got many shots from every places. Kob got lots of souvenir. Pueng enjoyed food tasting as she tried all food along the way. Ken got new nick name “photographer girl”. Most of all we all got new vision about Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai. There are not only mountains, rice fields, good weather, variety of food but there are so many hidden gems waiting for our exploring.


Even the hilltribe village now a day turned to be outdoor school and they turned to be our teacher and teach us how to make brass bangle, how to play their own design guitar. Then what are you waiting for. It’s time to start your first journey now!!!!

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