"And where is Doi Tao? Does it look like Doi Inthanon?"
That is a question that many people want to know which I also wondering it too. Until 7 years ago, I have a chance to feel the atmosphere of this place for the first time which I don't actually know where is the place called " Doi Tao" and where is it located on the map of Thailand. I just know that it is located in Chiang Mai and have to get on a rusted train which my face and bottom are feeling numb from Hua Lum Phong but I haven't felt afraid of it yet and still go there around 2-3 times in the past 3 years ago and get on the rusted train and feel the numb again and again.
And in the past October, I have a chance to visit this place again as the 3rd time visited but changing from traveling by train to a bus tour to reduce the traveling time. Even the environment around us is changed by time but the warmed and impressed feeling still be there, never change.
"Are you wondering what is interesting about this place?"
It is a long journey and not in the main road to Chiang Mai city or going back to Bangkok route that you can stop to visit and take a photo before you go back so this place is not a passed route. If you want to know the place, you have to intend to get here only. So, today I want to bring you guys to Doi Tai, to make you know more about this place, going out to see another corner of the place by my side of view. Even though, I haven't make an overall visit yet because it is only a part of the place which I know and want to recommend it to everyone.
LIFE IS A JOURNEY | Because like is a journey ...
"Dao Tao" is one district of Chiang Mai province, located around 125 kilometers away from Chiang Mai to the south. Northern part is next to Hod district. Western part is next to Omkoi district. Southern part is next to Sam Ngarm district, Tak province. Eastern part is next to Li district, Lamphun province. Most of the place is a forest and high mountain, some part is a reservoir of Bhumibol Dam or sometimes it is called " Doi Tao lake" which is the end of Ping river, the main river of Chiang Mai province.
I don't really know where the name 'Doi Tao district' originally comes from but the villagers say in the past a lot of turtles live in this area both on land and in water so this might be source of the district name and this is not the name of Doi ( the mountain) that many people presume.
7 years ago, I had been here as a university student to arrange a volunteer camp to build a multipurpose building for the school and community for 15 days. We have activities with people in the community and live together with villager, live close to nature and leave our self out from the outside world and the last 3 years, we have a chance to arrange a Children's Day Event to students in the school again.We finish the project with happiness that see from children's smile and other things. So these things are the reason that makes me feel binding and want to go back to visit them again.
This time we start departure from Bangkok by a bus tour on Friday night during the end of October, the bus turns on the song "Mai Tang Gun", 25 Hours which is the song of a movie "The Teacher's Diary (Kid Tueng Withaya)". It is the song that often help reminds me of the destination's atmosphere in this trip.
We arrive at Arcade, Chiang Mai bus station around 10 a.m. because there is a heavy rain fall periodically during the way to Lam Pang-Chiang Mai
At first I plan to come alone for this trip to visit family that I used to live with when I join the volunteer camp and give them some cloth of mine that I not often wear to 2 brothers and give some doll to the only daughter of the house.
But previously I go to have meal with my senior that used to join the camp together and fortunately he has a plan to go to Chiangmai so he interested to go to Doi Tao together and we have invited more friends who have joint the camp and finally there are 6 people joining together.
Back to Arcade bus station which is our assemble point to meet with another 2 travelers, they arrive almost the same time then we go to have breakfast. Our favorite restaurant that we often visit is a small restaurant, providing a north eastern food. The roof top of the restaurant is decorated with a big Tropical almond tree. It is located on the north west side of the old bus station but next to the red car.
The food has arranged in the pot that place on the long table in line. They allow us to open and choose what we want to eat. Then we walk to the wait at the table near a stone. And for a while, vendor will scoop the food you choose into the plate and serve on the table together with fresh vegetables and hot sticky rice.
I can't remember eat food name but there is one plate on the left side of the picture, it is " Goi", a raw beef mashing with a nice smell of spices that help deodorize the meat. The meat tastes sweet and spicy enough, who ever eat it would be drooling but I believe that many of you would definitely not dare to eat it . We also afraid of diarrhea, parasites but we not often eat it so finally we eat it all and no diarrhea but we are not sure about parasite, maybe it is growing in our stomach hahaha.
After finish eating, we then go to pick up our reserved in advance of motorcycle from the store near bus station which we can book it in advance via LINE and pay later. It is very convenient ( if you want to know which store, please inbox me) then we drive to meet other people that are waiting at the house of senior's friend in Lamphun.
When everyone is ready, we then start our journey by riding 5 motorcycles out from Lamphun and heading to Hod district to take a rest and buy snack but if you guy don't want to visit Lamphun like us, you can drive away from Chiang Mai city and drive to the route no.108 and you can also reach Hod district too.
One of the motorcycle's brake is broken on the way, so we have to find a store to fix it which takes around 1 hour. We take a seat and find something to do while waiting for the motorcycle to be fixed because we will definitely not leave anyone out in the middle of the way.
After it is fixed, then we continue to Hod district and stop at the market to have lunch and prepare some raw food to cook for another meals while staying at " Doi Kaew", one of the mountain in Doi Tao which is our destination in this time. We will bring the car cross Doi Tao lake and cross 3 more mountains so they don't have any stores for shopping like staying in the city.
After we take a rest and buy something, we then go out to Doi Tao district to the route no.1012, around 1 kilometer more and then turn left to the route no.1103 for 45 kilometers more.
When reach the center of Doi Tao, you would see Doi Tao hospital on the left hand and then you drive for 1 kilometer more and you will see a small intersection that a sign at the entrance is written as Baan Pha Juk School and Baan Pha Juk, the below wooden sign is written as forest protection of Doi Tai team 12 kilometers which is the point that we are going to get on the boat to cross Doi Tao lake.
On the way to meet Forest Protection team of Doi Tao, the first route is a cement road through the village but when pass it, there is an area planting a vegetable of the villagers and the road starts changing to a gravel road with a rough stone so we can't speed up and have to ride follow the front bike and eat the dust. We ride for a while unti we reach the half way and stop to wait for other followers since we left too long distance from them. We found out that 2 motorcycles are lost for too long and we afraid that they will ride to the wrong way and the phone has no signal. So, we ride back and find out that one of the motorcycle's tire is flat while passing through the village so they stop and change the tire and let another people to go ahead and contact about the boat to cross the lake.
When riding through the forest protection of Doi Tao team, you will see an open space filled with green pastures and herds in the middle of a high mountain, under a bright sky and the river is passing through the middle of it. It looks like an atmosphere of the Steppe of Mongolia that we have seen on TV.
Under the beautiful of the place you are seeing there, I feel very strange inside because water in the lake there has been reduced a lot when comparing to 7 years ago of the same month and 3 years ago of January which is replaced by the field and left over only a small Ping river only.
And this is the picture of Doi Tao lake which was taken 7 years ago during the end of October. But for the last 3 years ago during January, the volume of water is a little bit lower than what you see in the picture.
" Where does the water goes? Why it is so different from the past like this, is it because of the increasing in deforestation? or El Niño phenomenon? that is affecting to Southeast Asia region and caused the drought to occur right now?"
From our research in the first pace, we found out that the main reason is El Niño phenomenon which is the phenomenon that occurs naturally from the past and it likely to be more severe since the global warming that occurs from the deforestation and the emission to the nature. It causes the temperature of the sea currents in the sea and world temperature change.
For Thailand, there are many institutions including government that warning about the way to deal with drought so what we can do now and the closest way to our life is everyone should help saving the water. For agricultural sector, it may be necessary to switch from growing crops that use a lot of water to a crops that using less water instead to avoid the crop for lacking water usage and damaging in the future, according to government en-treatment for cooperation now.
Maybe because of this reason that cause Doi Tao lake to become a prairie for feeding cow of villagers which the number of cows are great, more than one thousand cow in this wide prairie.
When everyone is back and meet together again, now it time to take a motorcycle on the ship to cross to another side of river which is called a lake. All 5 motorcycles are motorclass PCX, small size motorcycle that use for going to market with 6 travelers.
The coolest one is this model but I don't know how to ride it actually. Just borrow it to take a photo, please look at my feet, I almost can't touch the ground hahaha.
When the ship dock, we slowly and carefully ride to park on the ship one by one because you would rolling off into the water instead.
One ship can perfectly carry 5 motorcycle and all of 6 people. Transportation fee is 20 Baht. Free carrying the motorcycle.
The ship slowly shifts away from the coast, moving through the fast-water floating.
A short period while siting on the ship, apart from taking a photo, another thing I want to do is to hand out and let my hand flow by the water because it makes me feel very comfortable.
" I can't imagine if I come here alone"
" I would be lonely"
We spend not more than 5 mins to cross safely to another side which very different from 7 years ago because in the past we use up almost around 1 hour to cross it but with a smaller ship which move slower than a big ship but it have to cross a wider lake so it consume more time like a picture in the past.
Taking a motorcycle out of the ship is not as hard as taking it on the ship and cross the coast because of the steep and the ground is too crumbly which almost bogged down and defeated in the water.
But finally we can pass this point while the sun starts to set down.
Map of our journey
Floating house that used to float on the water, right now it is floated on the field instead.
In the past they used to feed the fish in the stew but right now they change to feed a cow in the cowshed instead.
Next point we will ride through a shortcut route to a small road in the middle of the widen field.
We are riding along the way gradually, go up and down the hill which make us think of riding on the hill in Teletubbies cartoon.
After passing to a widen field we will ride slowly through a short way across the mountain around 3 mountains. The distance is almost 10 km., on the road that it width is around 1 truck car, the very slope area is made from mortar. Another 70 % is a soil with traces of the canal that occurs during the rainy season and the rocky ridges that make the road quite difficult to drive through.
Some part of the way we have to drive through a stream that cutting through the street. But now, there is only a little to almost no water flows through it.
Map of our journey
Since we are facing a difficulty riding on the road and the darkest is gradually appears and lead us to " Pok Bon village", One of the village on Doi Kaew, Doi Tao district, Chinagmai province. We reach there almost 7.00 pm. We park the car in front of the " Education Center Thai community at Mae Fah Luang" which is a village school and it is the place we are going to stay tonight.
After that we go greeting to the teacher and the village headman to inform him about us, visiting in this time. The headman still remembers us and also invite us to join the meal with them and stay overnight at his house. But we come here with many people so we prefer to stay at the school and not bother him. Teachers and headman then arrange a quilt and pillow to us for using with sleeping bag that we prepare to cope with a cold weather during the night.
Then our chef starts cooking food on the pan that set on the stove to cook our first dinner from material that buy at downstairs.
Here is the cooked-food in the picture, the taste is hard to explain since I am not sure that we are so hungry or the food taste good or both of it but anyway we eat it all and left only wild squirrel dish that cook by teacher which we, urban people are not quite familiar with the taste.
At night, the weather is turning colder and colder so we move to sit around the bonfire and burn potatoes to eat in front of the school with a look at the stars since the school is a courtyard located on the peaks and far away from the city's light so it makes this place to become one of the most beautiful scenic point to see the stars. It seems like the big and small stars are close at hands.
On the next morning, we wake up on the same time because of the alarm clock of one people which he himself doesn't wake up by his own alarm clock but that sound makes people awake. We wake up to see the sun rises on the temple that located on the highest peak of the village.
The weather on the temple is cold, the wind swept the light fog to the face gently.
We wait for not long then the sun starts to appear through the group of thick cloud above the mountain to greet with us.
The point that we are standing and seeing the view is the point in front of the Buddha bless which its height is around 20 meter which located on the clip, facing to the east but if there is no fog, you can see Doi Tao Lake clearly
We are standing here to breath in fresh air and have a sightseeing for a while then we go back to the school. We are passing through a house of the villagers that spread on the hill along the route. Some are made from bamboo and thatched with leaves of the plant.
Many houses are made from wood and thatched with zinc. There is a stove for cooking and heating during winter in the middle of the house.
The water use for drinking and bathing come from the mountain. Electricity comes from solar cell on the roof which almost every house has it. It takes around 1 day to charge to be used to provide light at nigh and it is sufficient to watch tv series in one day. The phone signal is provided by some company and at some point of the village only.
Most of the pet they feed here are pig, dog, chicken and cow which I can say that all animals here are very nice.
Villagers are Karen tribes or Pgazkoenyau, new generation people can speak Thai but grandparents generation can't speak Thai so we have to use a hands language and smile to communicate with them instead. Small children are so shy at first but if you familiar with them, where ever you want them to go then they will go with you. They are all nice and friendly.
And this is the family that I used to stay with when I were a volunteer 7 years ago, consisting of "father", a shy man but kindness. "mother", women who cooks very tasty food and fight for cleaning the dishes. A "Middle brother", who wear a deep blue, he is very naughty and like to persuade me to go hunting a wild squirrels in the wood. "Eldest Brother", speak less, timid but can go to anywhere with us. Lastly, "Youngest sister", she can't even speak when we met her for the first time but now she starts to grow up. The shirt we prepare to give them is for a boy only so we have to give her a doll instead. No matter how long the time pass, the warm feeling and impression still remain the same with me.
After that we go back to the school to eat breakfast that our senior prepare for us. It is a simple menu for breakfast.
and this is the building of the school that we slept last night
And this picture is a multi purpose building that we built 7 years ago which is being used as a meeting room, classroom and canteen of the villagers right now. The building deteriorates with time. We and our teacher then want to recondition the building by building up around 1 meter tall and attach with a steel net around the building to protect people from wild animals to make the classroom dirty. So, children will have good hygiene and healthy life.
So we produce our shirt to sell on the FB page again, we gain 23,700 Baht. After that we send the money to the teacher to start the construction. We get an cooperation from villagers to help modify the building in this time which right now the building is built by a brick around and left only a steel net only. We will go back to visit the school around October this year. If anybody interested to donate thing to help them, you can tell us in advance and this is the latest pictures that our teachers send to us. Thank You people who give a hand to help them from reading this blog.
Apart from playing general sports such as football or rattan, they also have another popular activities right now which is shooting a marbles that both boys and girls are playing together. They would be like us in a childhood period that we have a top hit activity to do in a short period of time. Some period, they like to collect a Pokemon card and in some period they turn to addict to feed a Fighting fish or a Millions Fish, etc. A child in a up-country would understand these activities.
There is a sledding like we see in a foreign country that play on snow at the hill too.
Thing that can rapidly passes on happiness to each other is " smile "
After finish breakfast and taking pictures with children, we then ask villagers to follow them to the forest to see how there harvest the farm on the mountain by riding a motorcycle along with villagers on the narrow road that has only half meter width. We go through the shortcut way and traverse the brae.
Riding out from the village for a moment then you will see a planting of yellow gold rice field that really to be harvested. From the picture, you can see that villagers have reclaimed the forest to utilize the area which seem like they are deforesting.
But on the other hand, this action will help to conserve natural resources and biodiversity since it is a cultivation system which this cultivation system in one area during a short period of time then they will move to cultivate on a new area of farmland to regain fertility of the area. It would take time at less 5 years and will reuse the same area again, perhaps every 5-9 years.
The system uses a lot of knowledge to run the process such as cutting the tree but left the stump for tree tillering, not cutting out a big tree, not invade the source of water in the forest and control the fire to burn in the plot.
Crop rotation system is an integrated plantation system which consists of rice, vegetable and variety of plants cultivating together and they emphasizes the cultivation of crops for household consumption only.
It may be considered as a form of sustainable agriculture.The farmers who maintain agricultural system have to comply with the rules to respect, value and humble the nature just like the word " Use the water, save the water, use the forest, save the forest"
They are using Ravish traditional harvest method. When the farm of one family is ready to harvest, everyone in the village will come to help and alternatively harvest until all the families are done in which the owner of the farm will prepare some food for return.
The way to harvest rice is not hard at all, just use any of your hand to hold Scythe tight after that use a scythe to gather the rice around 3-4 haulm rice and use another hand to hold the rice tightly, cut the rice out and hand in that rice to your partner to bound tightly the rice in hand together and place the pile on the floor. Farmers have to work as a team, one will take charge of harvesting and another one take charge of bounding the rice. The one who harvest the rice should be more tired because they have to bent and lift their back on the slope land in the middle of a hot day. People would feel dizzy like me if they have ever did it before.
After I help villagers to harvest the rice, my body is all wet for a while so I ride the motorcycle out to pick up the stuffs at school and heading to the waterfall.
The waterfall that used to be fulled of water in October now the water has already disappeared that we can get down and lay on it.
We are laying down there at a cliff for a while and the rain seems to fall so we decide to go back and heading to Doi Tao lake by passing through another route which is the same route that we went in the last time when the amount of the water in the lake is more than this.
There is a temple on the small hill locates on the way. A white pagoda is built disgustingly in the middle of the way which you can see in distant from here.
The temple builds a fence around it so we haven't got in there and only take a look at the view in front of the temple and take a picture. After that we ride down to the same way to port nearby but it is another place and the price is 10 baht more.
I am passing by a herds on the way that are looking at us with surprised.
When we come back from Doi Tao lake, we then have a break to eat Kao Soi in the center area of Doi Tao district that locates at the opposite site of the hospital. After parking the car, one of our member find out that he has lost the wallet and he remembers that he forgets the wallet at the port since he is the one who gets on the boat so he put the wallet at the back of the pick up car that park on the coast and go down to help haul up the motorcycle from the boat.
After we ride back for the wallet at the port, we then going to Lumohun by using another route. It is a route that connect with the route no. 106, Lee district, Lumphun province. There are a few car on the road for this route and the road is very good. We can comfortably riding through and finally go back safely to Lumphun province.
This is a part of Doi Tao that we know and want to recommend you guys to know. If you want to see Doi Tao lake in a green atmosphere like this, I recommend you to go there during October which is the end of the rainy season and winter is going to start. The weather is cool but if you want to see the lake with more water, you should go there during a rainy season and if you want to set up a tent near Doi Tao lake, you can contact for accommodation in the area of forest protection of Doi Tao team which is located and undertaken in Mae Ping national park area but there is no electricity and tap water supply. Another alternative is to find an accomodative around the center area of Doi Tao district.
For Mae Pok Bon house, Karen village at Doi Kaew, if you want to go up there I recommend you to go there during winter because the road is safe but I don't recommend this way for new driver because the road is quite steep and not a big 4 wheel car should not goes up because the road might collaspe. For those who want to help or share something, you can contact me personally, we can give you some recommendation.
Lastly, no matter which part of Doi Tao you are going to visit, I would like everybody to take care of the environment and respect that place to keep it beautiful as it used to be. Remain peaceful and nature forever "because Doi Tao is not a passing way"
LIFE IS A JOURNEY | Because life is a journey...
Summary of Expenses
1. Transportation fee
- Round bus from Bangkok-Chiang Mai : 1,138฿
- 2 Days of Motorcycle Rental fee : 350฿
- Gasoline fee : 200 ฿
2. Accommodation fee : free
3. Food fee : depends on people
Total 1,688 Baht
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LIFE IS A JOURNEY
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