Sunday, August 06, 2006

chiangrai 2005 - 06 Phu Chi Fa

[121205] at platform 1 in Chiangrai bus station, waiting for e bus that didn't turn out to be a bus:


some days later we would find ourselves back here waiting for a real bus to Chiang Kham.

e kinda bus we were expecting, where people would load everything from canvas bags full of clothing to gunny sacks of cement/rice/maize into & onto e bus:


but this (below left) showed up instead:


longest 'bus' tickets ever (above right) - 10 X 10 baht sections that add up to e length of e cat's forearm (below):


winding journey southwest to Thoeng, & then north from Pang Kha junction to Tap Tao. from there e van climbed along HWY 1093 up into e Phi Pan Nam mountain range that straddles e Thai-Lao border until we came to e first military checkpoint of this trip....a reminder that our seemingly innocuous itinerary went quite near places known for border incursions complete with occasional stray artillery fire 'airflown' in from Myanmar, plus drug & human trafficking. is this why we have to produce our passports before boarding domestic flights at Chiangrai International Airport? & does this need for documentation prevent stateless hilltribe people from travelling out of e province by air?

e driver dropped us right inside Rai Phu Fa:


we were welcomed by Phi Daeng, who takes care of e day-to-day operations of this place while Khun J manages e bookings from Bangkok.

photo by YK

e grounds are full of 'trumpet flowers' - same species that e cat came across in many places in Kyoto:

photo by YK

accomodation is either in tents on bamboo platforms, or rooms that sleep up to 6 on a platform:

photo by YK

500 baht/person/night for e rooms, inclusive of dinner & breakfast - think rates go up on cool season weekends & public holidays (King's birthday, Constitution Day) & 31 Dec, when people flock here to welcome e first sunrise of e year atop Phu Chi Fa.

mats for guests to lay on e floor of e corridor outside e rooms:

photo by YK

which is just what YK & e cat did. sat down to read & enjoy e view, & spied someone riding a motorbike towards some reddish foliage at e turn in e road leading to Ban Pha Tang:

photo by YK

decided to take a walk to that turning....

view of deforested slopes:


there will always be burning especially during e dry season, but this is nothing compared to smoke from lowland post-harvest rice fields & land-clearing on plantation-scale....

looking back at Rai Phu Fa resort:


e reddish foliage turned out to be this:


Euphorbia pulcherrima poinsettia flowers:

photo by YK

which reminded us of Homer Simpson:

photo by YK

after all e trouble of getting here by 'bus', we discovered that Rai Phu Fa is accessible by helicopter....!


heading back to Rai Phu Fa:




silvery in e sunshine, tossed asunder in e wind:


cool season up in e highlands of Thailand with an uncooperative gas-fired water heater & no heating, so we fell back into e 'Ban Apa routine' of bathing in e late afternoon while e sun was still up. sometimes it gets so cold here that plants will be covered by frost in e morning.

all rooms here sleep 6 pax, & e amount of food we were served for dinner seemed enough to feed 6:


more food came after e photo was taken!

after dinner, we huddled with a fun bunch of Thais from Khon Kaen & Bangkok around a bonfire under e stars....they'd all been to university & could manage a bit of English, & so we got by in a mix of English & Thai =)

[ filed under: thewanderingstraycat + thai1 + chiangrai_2005 ]

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