Saturday, August 15, 2009

Head in the clouds

It's 6.30am and for the first time in quite a while, I've woken up to the morning reverie of wild birds.

What makes it even more significant is that the closest Clare and I get to nature these days in Bangkok is in caring for our little struggler of a baby frangipani tree.

We flew up yesterday morning to Chiang Rai, in the mountainous north of Thailand, near the borders of Myanmar and Laos. We decided to brave the Thai roads and hire a little 4-door Honda Jazz - an absolute winner of an idea from Clare - spending most of yesterday driving along the back roads, checking out (modernised) tribal villages, cloud-swept mountain landscapes, postcard-perfect rice paddies and enjoying the cool air!

Until now, I had thought the authenticity of Thailand's cultural and ethnic heritage had been sold out to opportunistic travel operators. Not so in the north, with a modern tribal co-op system still working among the villages, embracing the advent of the new world, while seemingly keeping many of the traditions and cultural markers of their forepeople. The opium trade has challenged this in the past (and still), however I understand there to have been a significant shift away from the golden days of the Golden Triangle (more about this later).

We stayed last night on Doi Tung (Mt Tung), atop which the Queen Mother used to live. There's also a botanic garden here, which we hope to be able to visit today. Pictured above is the view we've just woken up to - so lucky!

For Karla - the government has worked to replace opium with coffee bean production as a means of resident income in the area, meaning some delicious fresh coffee available everywhere! You'd love it!!

(Apologies for the grainy mobile photo...will blog some decent ones when I get back!)


Cass said...

I love it that you observed a traditional, simplistic and natural way of Thai life embraced in the comforts of your commercial JAPANESE car!

Mum said...

Sounds wonderful Steve - pleased you little ducks could experience a 'change of air' and see something different of Thai life.

Belly said...

Cass - The way of the world really. My point was that not all of Thailand's traditions have been sold out, and I feel lucky to be able to see it.

Mum - Certainly was a change of air...perhaps something you and the big fella could consider doing when you come up. I must admit, I did say to Clare that I felt like I was on a Bell family road trip!!