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Old 13th May 2016, 11:33   #16
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Default Re: Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata

19 April 2016, 6:30 PM

Much as we are tired after the 12-hour 960-km drive from Bangkok, it is necessary that we explore at least one place in Chiang Rai tonight - the Night Market. So enchanted had we been with our trips to the ones in Chiang Mai (10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)), and Kanchanaburi (Thailand | Third Time), that the trip to Chiang Rai means we compulsorily visit the Night Market here too. I mentioned that...
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Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
If it is Kolkata, food is certainly the numero uno point of happiness.
...but now correct my statement to: Food is the numero uno point of happiness for us, anywhere in the world!

Well, one of the reasons for choosing to stay at the Baan Jaru is its proximity to the Night Market, and the food there. You must have the coconut ice-cream, says Toddy, explaining our route to the Night Market, a ten-minute walk from our room.

On the way, a stone's throw from Baan Jaru, is the Wat Jed Yod - literally, the temple of the seven peaks. It is said to be a copy of the ancient temple of the same name in Chiang Mai, which itself is a copy of the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya in India.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-chiangrai_2k500.jpg

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-chiangrai_1k500.jpg

We take a cursory look around the temple, and walk away towards the Night Market. The roads in any new city are interesting too, as we look around a bit.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-chiangrai_3k500.jpg

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-chiangrai_4k500.jpg

Soon enough, here we are at the Night Market.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-chiangrai_5k500.jpg

There's a variety of wares on sale at the numerous makeshift stalls here - from clothing to junk jewellery to handicrafts and many other things besides (including a stall selling a variety of interesting cigarette lighters!).

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-chiangrai_6k500.jpg

The coconut ice-cream seller is right there. The stuff is homemade by a couple who sell 3 flavours - coconut, mango and strawberry. The taste is mind-blowing, and it would have cost us 3 times more back in India to buy that quality and quantity of such rich, creamy and exotic ice-creams.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-chiangrai_7k500.jpg


The ice-cream serves as an appetizer rather than a dessert, as we move inside and discover the food court. The choice of food is to our taste, with a variety of prawns, fish and meats. This must be anti-Heaven for vegetarians. The rates are low, the taste mouth-watering. Coke is not sold chilled, so one pays another 10 THB for a bucket of ice. We gorge on prawns, and a hot pot which one cooks oneself, after buying one's choice of meats, prawns and fish, and an accompaniment of noodles. The hotpot is a first for us, but we figure out how patience is a virtue when cooking food right on the table. That, and how to use chopsticks (our daughter is already fairly adept at using them, so she holds an impromptu training class for my benefit).

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-chiangrai_11k500.jpg

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There's more variety of food here than we can taste in on evening, and we intend to be back tomorrow for more. For dessert, we opt for a huge glass of freshly made kiwi and strawberry smoothie for a princely 20 THB. Suddenly, the Smoothie Factory appears to be such a rip-off!

We retire by 9:30 PM - that is 8:00 PM IST. Must be the earliest we have gone to sleep, but being awake through the previous night plus the drive and visiting a new place have been enough excitement for one day.

Tomorrow, we'll plan over breakfast what we want to do tomorrow...

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 13th May 2016 at 11:40.
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Old 13th May 2016, 12:12   #17
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Default Re: Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata

After reading your travelogues, we'd ventured on our first Thailand (Unplanned) drive trip.

Absolutely unplanned, and we just took it one day at a time and by the end of it we didnt even want to come back.

Hated Bangkok, hated pattaya, Absolutely fell in love with Chiang Mai and Ko Chang. Two opposite corners. And by the end of an Epic unplanned trip, we'd clocked almost 3000 kms on a brand new Toyota Vios that had just 100 kms on it when we were handed the keys.

Our next adventure begins, this october. Cant wait to get there.

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Last edited by Rudra Sen : 13th May 2016 at 14:40.
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Old 14th May 2016, 16:38   #18
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Default Re: Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata

Wonderful travelogue Shamindra Da. Your travelogue not only acts as a screen trip to Thailand but also as a guide for someone planning trip like this. Your narration is very gripping. We are thankful to have you among us.

Please keep updating.

5-stars

Regards,

Pawan
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Old 14th May 2016, 21:34   #19
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Default Re: Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata

Exelent travelogue with great details. Going through your post is like actually living the action. Awaiting for the next post and looking forward to some more photographs. May be you would like to mention some scenes with traffic police
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Old 15th May 2016, 10:54   #20
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Default Re: Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata

Great TL SST. Rating it 5 stars.
Waiting for you to complete it as soon as possible.

A roadtrip in Thailand is a must-do.
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Old 17th May 2016, 16:55   #21
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Default Re: Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata

20 April 2016, 10:30 AM

The Clock Tower at Chiang Rai is just about half a kilometer away from Baan Jaru. So what's special about a clock tower, I wonder.

"But you must visit it once in the day, and then watch the musical performance at night," our host insists. The times to check out the sound-and-light show are at the stroke of the hour at 7 PM, 8 PM and 9 PM. Yesterday, the half kilometer seemed like twenty. Today, I think we shall do it.

Quote:
Designed by Thai artist Chalermchai Khositpipat and unveiled in 2008 in honour of His Majesty the King, Chiang Raiís elaborate golden clock tower (Hoh Nalika Chalerm Prakiat) is a work of art and tourist attraction in its own right. Chalermchai was the man who built the White Temple in Chiang Rai, and that same distinctive architectural style from Wat Rong Khun can be seen again with the clock tower. The structure serves as a traffic roundabout and whilst it is distinctive enough during the day, the clock tower and setting takes on a whole new quality when it is lit up in the evening.
It turns out to be quite a ornate and glamorous clock tower, not like any I have ever seen, serving as a traffic island. In the bright morning sun, its golden gleam and curvilinear lines draw one's focus away from its primary function, that of telling the time. But this is a work of art meant to attract tourists, and even if it told the correct time of day only twice every day, it would still be attractive.

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There are these electric cables running along the side making for a ghastly site, and for a moment I consider cropping them out of the photo. But in a faraway land it is nice to be reminded of familiar things we are so used to back at home, so I finally decide to let the photo remain uncropped. On the pillar to the left of the photo can be seen a pair of loudspeakers - these are present all over the city, and are used by the authorities (police and government) for important announcements (in Thai of course!)

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-chiangrai_3k500.jpg

We do return in the evening to watch the sound-and-light show, and it is indeed a beautiful sight.


================================================== ================================================== =========

20 April 2016, 11:15 AM

With no definite itinerary in our minds about places to visit as yet, we decide to drive across to the Hill Tribe Museum nearby. It is a small museum, more like a private collection, and we go through it in less than 30 minutes - and that includes watching a 10-minute documentary about the multiple tribes that exist in this region. But first, a restaurant on the ground floor of the building, which would certainly raise eyebrows back home:

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-dsc_2053k500.jpg

Intrigued by the name, I look askance at Google - and find that the founders of Cabbages & Condoms primarily do appreciable yeoman work in the social sector, and the C&C restaurant chain is only a part of what they do. However, the restaurants certainly help to attract international attention in a unique way:

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The Hill Tribe Museum has displays of articles of daily life of the various tribes of the region (more about them at this link), and we are out in a half-hour. Bamboo has its unique uses in making articles for daily use, we figure. There are handicrafts on sale, but nothing that interests us.

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Old 18th May 2016, 10:49   #22
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Default Re: Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata

What providence that I came across this post when I am in the midst of planning my own (incidentally 4th) trip to Thailand. But this would be my first self-drive holiday in Asia. Have done Greece, Italy & Austria in rentals, but have always been wary of trying something like that in Asia owing to safety concerns, traveling with family and all. But this gives some heart. Planning a southern Thailand trip, except for touching a couple of national parks bordering Burma. Intend to do 15 days including ferrying to either east (Ko Samui / Ko Chang) or west coast (Ko Lanta - Phuket - Krabi). Would reach out to you for tips on safety, peculiar rules / precautions for oddities etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
19 April 2016, 6:30 PM

Much as we are tired after the 12-hour 960-km drive from Bangkok, it is necessary that we explore at least one place in Chiang Rai tonight - the Night Market. So enchanted had we been with our trips to the ones in Chiang Mai (10 days across Thailand (2009) - and 8 more days (2011)), and Kanchanaburi (Thailand | Third Time), that the trip to Chiang Rai means we compulsorily visit the Night Market here too. I mentioned that...
...but now correct my statement to: Food is the numero uno point of happiness for us, anywhere in the world!
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Last edited by Rudra Sen : 18th May 2016 at 11:05.
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Old 20th May 2016, 10:20   #23
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20 April 2016, 12:20 PM

Losing your way in a bylane off a highway in a strange country can be fun.

"Where exactly are we going?" ask the ladies in the car.

"I don't know. We hope to visit a waterfall, though. Corn something - he gave us the GPS location. Toddy mentioned that we could also have our lunch sitting in a river there."

So we head west out of town, forgetting to take a right turn somewhere, just because there are some mountains up ahead, and we want to explore the countryside. As the road narrows, there is a sense of heading nowhere, with no place to turn the car around comfortably - until we come up to this clearing.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-cr1.jpg

It is strangely silent as I get out to stretch my legs a bit, even as the Swift's engine ticks over in the background with the air-conditioner running. It isn't really very hot, but it is sultry, with a soft breeze blowing, and it feels good to be in the shade of fruit-laden trees. There is apparently an infrequent bus service running along the road, and the bus shelter has an unusual appearance.

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Along the road is this structure - a place of worship it seems, but with no signage in English (which is rather uncommon if anything seems to remotely resemble a tourist attraction in Thailand).

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-cr4.5.jpg

There's this temple at the top of a hill, and we turn into the gate of the Wat Meangrai Maharaj. Not a common tourist attraction, this, but we enjoy the surroundings of the ornate temple (which was unfortunately closed).

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Smile! This is an interesting temple to explore!

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================================================== ==============

20 April 2016, 12:55 PM

We finally manage to find our way to the Highway 1211, and head southwards. On the way we cross the Singha Park, but decide against stopping for a dekko. This is an amusement park, and it would take us half a day to visit - the chief attractions being tea gardens, and giraffe & zebra farms. There are apparently facilities to rent a bicycle and travel around the park, but it is progressively getting hotter and I happily forego the opportunity.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-cr14.jpg

We are hungry, and the imagery of having lunch sitting on a river beckons us towards the waterfall with the 'corny' name - Khun Korn. Turning right from 1211 on to 1208 finds us climbing into the mountains again (well, naturally! Where else would Chiang Rai's highest waterfall be?) Enjoy the drive along the beautiful road!
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Old 20th May 2016, 11:48   #24
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20 April 2016, 1:45 PM

How does one completely ruin the appetite of a family who is feeling absolutely ravenous, and is known to love Thai food, especially of the non-vegetarian variety? Well, we'll come to that later. For now, we follow the Mae Korn river upstream, the road lined by leafy trees, banana plantations and bamboo groves. There are a few lay-bys along the road as the road goes past the villages of Bahn Pang Kok, Bahn Pang Rim Korn and finally Bahn Pang O. There are houses and shops lining the river - more like a mountain stream than anything resembling a river though! Folks walk across the river at various points over bamboo bridges, just wide and strong enough to wheel a bicycle over. The winding stream and grassy banks are lined by sharp-roofed wooden houses peaking through the trees., where crops of restaurants have come up along the river and people from the local areas flock to for an afternoon of bliss in the water, and delicious local food.

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We park the car at the rather rocky parking lot, and make plans to visit the waterfall, some 1400 metres away along a narrow forest trail.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-kk4k500.jpg

But first, we need some nourishment! There's plenty of meat, fish and interestingly-cooked eggs available at the roadside stalls, and there's also a Thai version of the tandoor in use.

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And then we spy something that temporarily ruins our appetite - trays full of bugs! Fried crickets, and fried silkworm larvae. Even for hardened non-vegetarians, we draw the line at consuming Arthropods (except, of course, certain decapod crustaceans)!

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Plans for a gala lunch are shelved for the time being. We'll reconsider our decision to have lunch here once we finish visiting the waterfall.

The path is not as slippery as the signs make it out to be, but I'm certain it will be far worse if it rains. My daughter and I decide to hike up to the waterfall, while my wife decides to soak her feet in the cool waters of the stream.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-kk3k500.jpg

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Little do we know that it will be one long climb...

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Old 23rd May 2016, 17:03   #25
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20 April 2016, 2:50 PM

We have been trekking up the narrow path for the last 20 minutes, my daughter and I, and it has been getting progressively steeper. We have made one cardinal error before beginning the trek.

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There were a few bamboo bridges first, and they were stronger than they looked. Then the relatively flat path is well-shaded by the forest and slopes gently upwards, with dense bamboo groves on either side. The path is of packed soil, not loose and dusty, At places the climb gets tougher, and steps (albeit rather gigantic and crude ones) have been created using bamboo and mud.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-2-khun-korn-4.jpg

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Some of the trees are really gigantic, but as we gain altitude, there is a greater predominance of bamboo groves.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-1-khun-korn-4.jpg

The sun does not shine through strongly, but the humidity is starting to take its toll. We are sweating profusely as the going gets tougher, and we have forgotten to carry a bottle of water with us. The thirst begins to get uncomfortable. Both of us are feeling exhausted, and we struggle to go up the steep slope for the last 200 metres.

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The waterfall itself is a glorious sight. We opt not to climb down to the base of the fall and take a dip in the pool...

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... especially since we left my wife literally 'cooling her heels', and she would be worried. There is no phone network here in the jungle, and we cannot call back and inform her.

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The exhaustion and thirst get worse as we begin the climb down. I am not a big fan of selfies, but this shows the sweat running off me - my T-shirt is sopping wet, there are rivulets of sweat trickling into my eyes that I am just not managing to keep away, and I feel drained. Drained, but elated that we made the trek successfully.

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We badly need some water to drink. Other local folks are more intelligent than us, and everybody has a bottle of water with them. Empty water bottles are discarded in a tidy manner in baskets placed strategically on the way.

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There is a clear spring trickling down the side of the mountain, and we try to drink to our fill - except that it is a cumbersome, slippery location, and the flow of water is difficult to get to. A kindly gentleman sees our dilemma and offers us a full bottle of drinking water. We are really grateful to him for the kindness, and he declines our offer of money. We drink deeply from the bottle, refill it again till we've drunk to our fill; then fill the bottle again and carry it with us.

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We head back into town after a few of those interestingly cooked eggs. They have some spices filled inside, and the yolk and albumen are homogenized together to a smooth texture. Very tasty, these.

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It is getting close to 7 PM, and we want to catch the sound-and-light show at the Clock Tower.

And then we find some cats...

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Old 27th May 2016, 13:23   #26
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Default Re: Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata

20 April 2016, 6:55 PM

Here we are, back again at the Chiang Rai Clock Tower, waiting for some sort of miracle to happen.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-20april16_47k500.jpg

As we wait at the corner of Jetyod Road and Banphaprakarn Road, I notice an odd movement just behind me inside the glass fronted store. Startled, I turn around to stare - and find cats. Lots of cats.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-20april16_46k500.jpg

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-20april16_45k500.jpg

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This is a very uniquely themed cafe, perhaps the most interesting one I have ever seen. On the floor, on the walls, there are cats of various sizes and hues everywhere.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-20april16_44k500.jpg

We are spellbound by the cats, and then by the clock!

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-clock-tower.jpg

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Old 31st May 2016, 21:56   #27
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Default Re: Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata

20 April 2016, 8:30 PM

One can find a variety of cuisines apart from Thai in most of the cities in Thailand, but up north in far away Chiang Rai, Indian food is not easy to come by. We shy away from having what passes for Indian food in the hands of Thai chefs, and distinctly remember the only two occasions when we had Indian food in Thailand. The first was at Pattaya during our first trip, where, accompanied by my MIL, we hunted up an Indian restaurant owned by a Bangladeshi fellow, which was expensive but satisfying; the second time was on the second trip, at Krabi, where we felt a little homesick and walked into another restaurant run by a Pakistani, where our experience was not quite fulfilling.

On Jetyod Road in Chiang Rai, we come across this place which doesn't get the spelling right, and we have no intention of dining on brigani or pakaras here.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-signs-indiak500.jpg

Next door is this derelict truck sticking its nose out on to the road, and that send sour appetite wandering elsewhere again. I wonder how this truck arrived here, and how old it is. I am certain the forum can inform me all about it, even as I press the shutter.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-truck.jpg

There are food stalls everywhere...

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-jetyod-road.jpg

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-street-vendor.jpg

...but we head to the Night Bazaar once again for a spot of shopping for trinkets, and our fill of some great local food.

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Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-nightmarket.jpg

There's prawn tempura, pork sausages, and many other delicious stuff, topped off with some generous portions of icecream - coconut, strawberry and mango, served in beautifully sweet and flavourful melon halves. Great food at rock bottom prices, and despite our having dined her the previous night, we still cannot get enough of all this.

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Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-nightmarket-icecream.jpg

Burrrpp... and good night!

Tomorrow, we head back south. But not before climbing a mountain. But before I can fall asleep, there's a sudden change of plan at the last minute.

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Old 5th June 2016, 16:13   #28
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Default Re: Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata

21 April 2016, 12:05 AM

Once again, I have made one of my hare-brained travel / driving / sightseeing plans for the coming day, which would involve staying awake for 40 hours non-stop, sightseeing through the day at Chiang Rai, driving through the night to Ayutthaya via Chiang Mai, sightseeing for a few hours there the next morning, and then driving from Ayutthaya to Hua Hin, to arrive there and catch up on lost sleep.

"Can we leave by afternoon from Chiang Rai, and get to Ayutthaya by the night itself? Let's cut short some of the sightseeing in these parts." SWMBO mutters as I am beginning to doze off, dreaming of those marvellous dollops of rich smooth coconut icecream.

"Umm... great..." That was my response to the imaginary icecream melting in my mouth.

"No more overnight drives on this trip please. We have already done one on the very first day. All of us get very tired the next day. We can't afford to have our daughter fall ill. She'll be going away in 2 months' time, and this is not the time to fall ill."

"Ill? Who's ill?" my slumber has been interrupted. I wake up with a start.

Thus evolved a new plan. We would cut short on our detailed sightseeing around Chiang Rai, and leave for Ayutthaya in the early afternoon. Which means we need to book a hotel at Ayutthaya to check in tomorrow.

I get up ever so reluctantly, drag out the laptop, and connect to Booking.com. The site allows me to reserve rooms and pay on arrival - I am always a little apprehensive of using credit cards online. There's a good hotel of the type we are looking for, with 'last room available', the website announcing. Maybe it's our lucky day!

By now, I cannot fall asleep again. I need to curtail our extensive plans of whirlwind sightseeing around Chiang Rai, and driving down to Ayutthaya via Chiang Mai. I whittle down the list to include a trip to Doi Tung, a visit to Baan Dam (Black House), and the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun). This also means that the planning and homework Toddy and I did earlier on, are not put to use. Oh, well, never mind, perhaps some of you can use the GPS coordinates and map to take a more extensive trip to that region later on.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-dsc_2278.jpg

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-dsc_2280.jpg

A check of Google Map tells us the distance to Ayutthaya is a tad over 700 km, which should take us about 9 hours to cover. We need to finish our sightseeing here by 1 pm if we are to check in at Ayutthaya by 10 pm.

It's past 1 AM already...
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Old 16th June 2016, 22:32   #29
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Default Re: Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata

21 April 2016, 11:30 AM

The little Swift has a mind of its own and refuses to acknowledge the fact that my right foot is trying to force the accelerator pedal right through the floor. The RPM meter is stuck at 2000 r/min, and the rubber band of a gear box seems undecided about whether to allow the car to climb the hill, or send us rolling backwards. In the event, as the video shows, we do climb up. Lesson learnt - electronics will drive the car in tough situations, and consider the person behind the wheel to be an idiot.

I am a sucker for (sometimes) taking the odd weird turn that Google suggests, to reach my destination. It is sometimes fun, and what's the point of travelling on aseptic wide highways all the time anyway? This one was certainly fun. And then we are at the parking lot of Doi Tung.

Doi Tung (literally, Flag Peak) was one of the many areas in Northern Thailand which grew opium and practiced 'slash-and-burn' cultivation (similar to jhum cultivation in India). On the assumption that a royal presence in the area would shame the locals into stopping these two practices, the Princess Mother built the Royal Villa on the peak of the mountain. Under royal patronage, opium growing and slash-and-burn methods were replaced by tea, coffee, fruit and macadamia nut cultivation - although some regions still continue with the practice of slash-and-burn cultivation.
Quote:
Under the patronage of the late Princess Mother, Princess Srinagarindra, the Mae Fah Luang Foundation was founded to carry out development activities so that the quality of life of Thailand's ethnic minorities in the Doi Tung area could be raised. These activities took the form of livelihood development, which encompassed the reforestation of watershed areas and the development of various social enterprises to benefit local people.

After the passing away of the Princess Mother, His Majesty the King took the foundation under patronage and appointed his daughter, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, as its chairperson. The Foundation's central mission is to keep the Princess Mother's development legacy alive to benefit as many people as possible and to inspire new generations to be responsible, engaged citizens.

HRH Princess Srinagarindra called the villa "home at Doi Tung". The Royal Villa was built with Princess Mother's private funds; she considered it her first real home in Thailand. The Princess Mother also made it known that without the Doi Tung Development Project, she would not have built a house in the area. She only stayed because she could reforest the land and helped to improve the lives of the local people.

The Royal Forest Department planned to present the land for the construction of the Royal Villa to the Princess Mother. However, she refused their offer, on the grounds that she was not more privileged than any Thai who had no right to own land in a forest preserve. Therefore, the Royal Villa was leased out to the Foundation for 30 years, the same period as the Project's timeframe.

The exterior of Doi Tung Royal Villa was built of concrete and decorated with wood slabs cut from discarded teak trees, which came from forest thinning work by the Forest Industry Organization. The interior of the Royal Villa is paneled with recycled pine wood, which came from crates used for imported tools and equipment. The gold teakwood that lines the floor was presented to the Princess Mother by the Forest Industry Organization. The simple interior design exudes elegance and functionality, which reflects the nature of the owner of the residence.

The upper floor of the building accommodates four sections. These include the late Princess Mother's private area, a reception hall and kitchen, and the private quarters for the Princess Mother's daughter, Her Royal Highness the late Princess Galyani Vadhana and Thanpuying Tasanavalaya Sornsonggram, Princess Galyani Vadhana's only daughter. The highlight of the Royal Villa is on the ceiling of the main hall. It has hand-crafted wood inlay of the Princess Mother's favourite constellations. Designed by the Astronomy Society of Thailand, installed light bulbs representing the stars in the centre of the ceiling showed the position of the constellations on October 21, 1900, the day the Princess Mother was born.

The Princess Mother first took up residence at the Doi Tung Royal Villa on November 23, 1988, 10 months after the start of construction, and before it was completed. She stayed at the Royal Villa on five more occasions for several months at a time to allow her to work on her projects.

Source
It is hot and humid as we climb out of the car, and begin our exploration of the little market near the reception area at the Doi Tung Villa.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-doitung-flags.jpg

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The produce on sale is interestingly different from what is available in Indian marketplaces.

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-market-doitung.jpg

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-market-doi-tung.jpg

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Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-fruit-doi-tung.jpg


There are 4 tourist attractions that one can access on foot from here - the Royal Villa (almost a kilometre down the road), the Mae Fah Luang Garden (a steep climb down the mountainside, though there are proper steps and a walkway), the Mae Fah Luang Arboretum (another long walk in the heat in a different direction), and of course the Hall of Inspiration (right next to the ticket counter).

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-doi-tung-ticket.jpg

Thus began a short debate on what we want to visit.

The heat and humidity finally become the deciding factor. On a rough calculation, it would take at least 4 hours and 8 km of walking to cover all the sights. We do not have that kind of time, because we need to be on our way to Ayutthaya by 1 PM. But we are here, and we want to see at least something. The inspired solution? A visit to the Hall of Inspiration!

Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata-hall-inspiration.jpg

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Old 16th June 2016, 23:51   #30
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Default Re: Wat Chao Doi-n'? AH1 Mae Swift-ly take us to Thailand (again) via Kolkata

21 April 2016, 12:00 noon

Our quick tour of the Hall of Inspiration is over in just about half an hour. The dark air-conditioned innards of the hall are a great relief from the heat and humidity outside. But there is very little time to go through the exhibits in detail, so I click away in the hope that I shall savour the photos at leisure while I put up the travelogue.

So here are the pics. Enjoy browsing through the life and times of the Thai royalty as much as we did.

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