Just back from around 1000klms of travel heading south from Chiang Mai down through some great scenery to Tak where we found a vibrant market humming along the shores of a great river setting then on to Mae Sot where one can cross into Burma.
Mae Sot is fairly non-descript but there's always a certain buzz about border-crossings - watching the 'wheelers & dealers' moving across the borders; 'investigating' the deals that are on offer & so on. Amusing having 'urgers' trying to flog you all & anything along the river, watching certain 'farang' (westerners) working the system, seeing more farang trying to out-wit the local stone dealers....... There's some interesting shopping, especially in materials whose availability varies between & within the countries concerned; teak is a good example at present.
A quick walk over to Burma for some $1 CDs & DVDs before returning to head north to Mae Sariang. Magnificent scenery along this route, by the river/s, past hot springs, fabulous rolling agricultural country as well as a camp in a magic setting at the foot of some spectacular mountains for Burmese refugees. Their homes are all constructed from local materials - teak frames, bamboo walls & roofing from large leaves growing in the mountains (sorry, must get more precise info on the tree concerned!) To see the Burmese woman in their sarongs lugging huge leaf filled baskets belted to their foreheads is an experience. It creates the impression that one has just stumbled across a tribe (in their thousands!) all living in, & constructing from, the jungle.
We stayed the night very comfortably on the riverside at Mae Sariang before heading off early the next day for Doi Inthanon, Thailand's highest mountain at 2565m. The airforce has built a couple of chedis up there - one for each of the King & the Queen, to celebrate their respective 60th birthdays. Wonderful gardens & exceptional views out over Asia!
We headed down-hill for lunch stopping at a restaurant we'd found by chance when hit by rain one day whilst motorbiking up to Doi Inthanon - looking quickly for shelter/accommodation. Some of the local Hmong tribe suggested the 'Royal Project' site nearby; an agricultural project set up by the King to provide a viable alternative to opium growing for the hill-tribes. Up behing/through the tribe we stumbled across the site (Royal Project) with its wonderful garden, where they grow all sorts of flowers, produce all sorts of fruit & vegies, grow their own trout & even their own red wine! Black swans on the dam, a lovely restuarant setting serving produce from the project, surrounded by a huge waterfall, some great accommodation....what more do you need!