Saturday, January 21, 2017

10 LEVELS OF MAE SA WATERFALL - CHIANG MAI THAILAND

Recently we climbed up the 10 levels of the Mae Sa Waterfall during our Mae Rim loop tour in Chiang Mai. 

Arriving early made sure there is no tourists yet and we were really alone on our climb. It will also make sure that it is really manageable before the heat of the day kicks in, even though it is not a steep climb but still a sweaty one. 

Entrance fee and parking fee were charged at the entrance boot, even though entrance fee should have been waved due to the governments announcement during the mourning period for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. 

At the end of November there was also still plenty of water running. We had been here in March many years before and there was no water left. There are booth and food stalls at the parking lot, a bit up from the visitor center. However, as one Thai friend explained to me, a typical Thai visitor will only come for shopping and/or food, but will not really walk up the waterfalls. I am not sure if this is generally true, but it was actually what I saw during my visit. 






























Thursday, January 19, 2017

WHITE HMONG VILLAGE - CHIANG MAI THAILAND

A real treat during our last visit to Chiang Mai was the offer from our local guest house owner to guide us up into the mountains west of the city to a local Hmong village. While we took our own car up the mountain, we had to park it at the Bhuping Palace and continued the bumpy mountain road in a pick-up truck from the Hmong village. The drive itself was already exciting since we went up into the clouds and the rain forest of Doi Pui mountain. Somewhere along the way we stopped to have locally grown coffee and of course we bought some to take home. 

Our destination on the mountain was Khun Chang Kian, a village of White Hmong people, who live up here on the mountain and who support themselves with a tiny bit of tourism, local coffee plantations and of course jobs down in the valley. So far it has been the most non-tourist village of all the mountain tribes I have visited. I have even been to villages in Chiang Rai province where the tourists dressed up as mountain people for a photo shoot! How crazy is that?

A beautiful and quiet village, with pre-schools and grade schools, small coffee shops and I have seen one or two wooden buildings which sell local products, however without being pushy. In fact we took the whole walk through the village without being approached by the locals, unless we initiated the conversation. 

A really nice experience as a whole day trip, including Bhuping Palace and the craziness of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in the late afternoon. Not cheap, but very well worth it, thanks to the vast amount of knowledge from our local friend. 






















 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

NONTHABURI - KOH KRED - THAILAND

One of my favourite day trips in Bangkok is to take the boat outside of the city. For one because it is a cheap way to see and explore a lot and it is also an efficient way to leave the city without being hassled by the traffic. 

I've done the trip up to Nonthaburi a few times, but by boat I did it last in 2004 to flee the city from the Songkran craze. Surprisingly nothing much had chanced since then. It was still finding the right connections of Subway (MRT) and Sky Train (BTS) to Saphan Taksin (Taksin bridge) and taking an express boat which goes all the way to Nonthaburi peer. Yellow and orange flag boats are the ones which I prefer. Once the tourist sites and Grand Palace stops pass by, I usually have the boat almost to myself. I think I paid 40something baht for the whole way up!  While the boats in the past went on further, to Pak Kred pier, it now stops in Nonthaburi. However, Nonthaburi is a good place to explore for a while. Lots of markets and some temples are there as well as local town life without the craziness of the big city of Bangkok. 

Koh Kred, the artificial island, is still a bit further up the river, but from Nonthaburi there are several options to continue the trip, either by taxi, which will drop you at Pak Kred upriver, or by boat. Usually there are scammers at Nonthaburi pier who want to sell boat trips. I have done those too and quite liked them, but a bit of bargaining is needed to get a good price. This time I just met up with a friend and went up to Koh Kred by car, from where we crossed the river by ferry for 2 Baht. 

Once on the island of Koh Kred, I always feel like being in another world. Note: this is a completely different story on the weekend or on holidays! Very few tourist are here, either Thai or foreigners. Some rent a bicycle to cycle around the island. Others just walk. There are plenty of old temples, restaurants, food stalls, tourist shops and nature to explore. I also just love to sit by the river and watch the ships and boats pass by and enjoy the quietness of this island. The way back is the same way - ferry - taxi and boat or taxi and the new purple line train which will connect to the subway trains further down in Nonthaburi. I tested the purple line train







Nonthaburi square

crossing the river to Koh Kred island


King Rama V





food stalls along the way around the island