Our Year-End Trip up North

(Dec/27/2005 - Jan/1/2006)


Note:
I wrote this in plain text before I knew or heard of "HTML".
I emailed this in the first week of January 2006 to my friends and family.
Almost 4 years later, on Dec-19-2009, I re-phrased some words in the article and added HTML tags and posted it to the website ( for the first time ).


Hi, All:

Sawasdee bhee mai paw saw 2549   ( = Happy New Year 2006 ! )  
I hope this is a better year for all of us.

Here is a report of our trip up north:

When we came back from northern Thailand on New Year's Day we felt that the "dry and cold winter" days that we had enjoyed in Bangkok prior to the trip (that is, room temp at 20 °C) were gone.

The trip was fun.   We left home at 8 pm on Dec 27 and arrived in Tak at 2 am.   It was cool and comfortable up north.  But it was VERY COLD for Tony and Ken, who were not used to below 25 °C.   Sompote said such temp was heaven for golfers. (He is so crazy at golf - he is currently the chairman of Toyota Golf Club!)   However, we did not go to any golf courses in this trip.   We just went up and down many mountains.

In the morning we took the quiet road from Tak via Baan-taak heading west to Mae Ramaad, and then along the Thai-Myanmar border up north to Mae Sariang.   The narrow and steep mountaineous road along the border looked so deserted but it was actually "very safe," said one of the policemen that we met at a checkpoint.   He told us that there was heavy security all the way because the next day the Crown Princess would be visiting Tah song yang, which is a small town between Mae Ramaad and Mae Sariang.   Three years ago the Princess also visited the same place right after we did.

We passed many near-90° curves on the mountain.   We saw hilltribe people in their traditional colorful and exotic costumes.   We passed by a few pick-up trucks with full load of cabbages.   We also saw heaps of cabbages at road side waiting to be loaded.   At a place our car was totally stopped in the middle of the road for a few minutes by a herd of strolling cow .   They "filled up" the road just like what we sometimes see on Discovery channel!

The huge refugee camp that we first passed by three years ago was now full of trees and looked very green and nice.   I hope the asylum seekers from our neighboring country did not have to remain in there too long before they could go back home safely.

In the mainstreet of Tah song yang, everything – including the garbage cans – looked so shiny clean, so unlike what we often see in the remote towns and villages.   There were lots of flags and signs ready to greet the Crown Princess.

From Mae Sariang we headed east and finally arrived at Jomtong, a small town at the foot of Doi Inthanon.   This part of the country is in Chiangmai province.   We stayed at "Touch Star Resort".   The place was good!   They have a homepage, too!

The next morning we drove up to Doi Inthanon, which peak is the highest in Thailand.   The temperature up there was 18 °C under the sun and 14 °C in the shade.   Not too cold.   But I heard it was 0 °C in the morning.   On the Doi there was a shrine commemorating the last Lannathai King, Inthawichayanon of Chiang Mai, or King Inthanon.   The King's daughter, Princess Dara Rasamee, was sent to Bangkok to be Princess Consort of King Rama V of the Chakri dynasty.   (Current King is Rama IX).

We came down and stopped by a waterfall just off the road.   I was impressed at the large amount of fresh and clean water that kept "falling" incessantly at its fullest speed from the top of the cliff.   I wonder where all the water was from... The tiny droplets filled up the air and we could see beautiful rainbow in full circle!

Our next stop was an open-air restaurant by another smaller (and less noisy) waterfall.   We had sticky rice, somtum, charcoal-grilled chicken, etc., as our late lunch (early dinner).   The food was delicious!

The next day we went to Doi Ang-khang, which was the high mountain along the Thai-Myanmar border in the NW.   We found the road up the Doi much better than what it was 3 years ago.   There were also more trees, tents, tourists, and coffee stands.

On the way we had lunch at a restaurant run by the daughter of the late KMT Commander General Lee.   The lady was tall and could speak many languages.   The restaurant premises used to be a military camp!   It still looked very bleak.   General Lee's daughter was educated in a well-known private school in Bangkok and went to college in the States.   She told us she chose to give up the comfortable city-life and returned to her hometown not just to run this restaurant but she wanted more (Chinese speaking) people to know what had really happened in the past.   According to her, we Thais understood her people better than the other KMT groups that had evacuated from this area to Taiwan.   What a complicated past...

We went up and up the mountain and came to a Royal Agricultural Project.   There were lots of plum and cherry trees in full blossom.   We went further until we were so close to the Thai-Myanmar border.   There we saw a few Thai soldiers.   They looked "fierce" but were very friendly to us:   when I asked if it was OK to take a picture of them with Tony and Ken they immediately stood in a row and posed with their weapons and lovely smiles! ....

From the news we learned that these soldiers had to always be in full alert as it was not peaceful on the other side of the border.

We left the Doi and took the road that ran along the Thai-Myanmar border.   3 years ago this road was not open to civilian due to security reason. Needless to say, it did not show on our map!   I remember they blocked the path with a tank.   But that was the past.   No tank this time.   On the contrary, on top of the mountain we saw coffee stalls, noodles stalls, and tables and chairs spreading out for the tourists to eat and drink and enjoy the view of the vast and peaceful land below.

The narrow and zigzag path down the mountain was between a cliff and a valley.   At some point we could see Myanmar flags and one or two grim-faced Myanmar soldiers on the cliff that was just a few meters above the road .   Here we did not see any visible man-made borders between the two countries.   The "border" in this part of the country must be very narrow!  

It was quite an adventure for us as the unfamiliar narrow road was very steep with many sharp turns, and there were a few places that were in real bad condition.   Fortunately, there was a local pick-up truck in front of us leading the way.

We saw more and more tangerine trees as we got near Faang, which was well-known as the land of tangerines.

Doi Mae Salong, or Santihiri, is another famous sight-seeing village whose residents were mostly the offsprings of the former KMT soldiers from China.   Doi Mae Salong and the viccinity was three times the size of Taiwan.   It used to be the territory under the command of General Tuan, who was the other well-known KMT commander.   General Tuan passed away 30 years ago.   The road up the Doi was better and better each time we visited.   The village was getting bigger, too.   There were more resorts, restaurants, and tea manufacturing places.   This time we went further up and experienced the incredibly breath-taking super steep and narrow road before we reached Phra Boromma-Taad of Somded Yaa (= King's mom monument).   The sunset up there was sooooooooo beautiful, but we had to rush back before it was completely dark.

The road to Chiangmai was long.   As I type now I remember we saw forest fires.   In some places the fire was so wide-spread and near the road.   It was bit scary.

We spent our New Year's Eve watching fireworks all over Chiangmai sky from our hotel room on the 14F.   The hotel was in the middle of 'Night Bazaar' in downtown Chiangmai.

On New Year's Day we went to McDonald's near our hotel to get some to-go food.   There we were surprised to see all the tables inside McD's occupied by farang families.   For a split of second I doubted where I was!

This downtown area had had flash flood a few weeks before our visit.   But it looked totally normal when we were there.

I will e-mail photos when ready.

Happy New Year again.
Stay warm!  

Kanda
Bangkok


Another Note:
Unfortunately I could not send out any pictures afterwards as all our pictures were LOST.   I forgot if it was the old camera or the PC that crashed......




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