Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day trip

Yesterday I arranged for a day trip to a Karenni village. Karenni is the more appropriate name for long-neck village, and it's one of the primary reasons why I came to Mae Hong Son. The Karenni village was just one stop on the day trip, though, so I had quite the day today.

When I signed up yesterday, I was told that at least two people needed to sign up or the price would be higher (1500B vs 900B), unless I wanted to go by motorbike instead of car and then the price would be the same. By happenstance, I met Christina from Italy at breakfast this morning and she had also signed up for the same day trip. We left just after 9am and our first stop was the Karenni village. We took pictures of the women wearing the heavy brass coils around their necks, but we were both trying really hard not to make the women seem like they were creatures in a zoo. We talked to them and asked about their families. We asked how long it took to make the scarves they were selling and we found out that those coils weigh 5-6kgs. I picked up one of the coil wraps sitting on the table and it was heavy! I can't imagine how they get used to wearing that around their necks.

After the Karenni village we went to a place called Tham Pla, or Fish Cave. A type of carp live in the waters that go through the cave and they can grow to one meter long. I don't know if this is normal for this type of fish or not, but I suspect their bigness is at least partially due to the large amounts of fruits and vegetables fed to them by visitors (fruits and vegetables sold by the park for 20B, of course). Fish Cave wasn't particularly exciting, but is was in a very nice, quiet, and green park, so it was pleasant enough.

Next on the agenda was a tiny little town called Mae Aw, about 40km north of MHS and
right on the border of Thailand and Burma. (ToadMama, you can add this to the Shannon Tracker if you'd like. I meant to take the SPOT and totally forgot.) Mae Aw is a Chinese settlement and doesn't get so many visitors, but Christina and I both thought it was adorable. There's this beautiful, bucolic lake and we both felt that we could spend a couple days there. This was also our lunch spot, a lunch which was difficult to order because the villagers speak Thai and Chinese, our driver only spoke a little English, and we only speak a few words of Thai. I managed to order a pork dish and Christina, who was trying to avoid pork because she had it twice yesterday, ordered a soup. She says the soup was good, but it was a "super pork" dish (which had us laughing our heads off) - it had pork bits and pieces as well as slabs of pork fat rolled into little bundles. I'm pretty sure she won't be ordering anything pork related for dinner tonight. :-)

On the way back from Mae Aw we stopped in an area that I'm not sure the name of, but it's popular with Thai campers from the looks of things. Tents were set up everywhere, including in the midst of this little forest next to a man-made lake. Back into the car for us and we stopped in another little village that I don't know the name of, but this one had all kinds of stalls by the side of the road selling souvenirs. After Christina made her purchases, I noticed a coffee sign and immediately perked up - iced coffee was just what I needed! The owner of the coffee shop motioned for us to go out into the back garden and what we found was perhaps one of the highlights of my day. It was two groves of bamboo, but not just any ol' bamboo. These bamboo stalks were the thickest and tallest bamboo I'd ever seen. Really very cool.

You might think that by now our day must be nearly over, but you'd be wrong. Next up was a stop at Pha Sua Waterfall. I knew before I even saw it that it would be a bit of a letdown after the Seven Steps Waterfall in Kanchanaburi (and it was), but it was pretty enough, I suppose. We went to the Pha Bong Hot Springs next where they have various mud spa treatments. Neither of us were much interested in that, but we did want to have a foot soak in one of the tubs. There was a bit of confusion because a woman handed us towels and told us we owed 20B each for the (what we thought was free) soak; it turns out, she was selling us use of the towels to dry our feet and once we figured that out, I let her know (in Thai) that "I don't want" (hey, my Thai's not so good, it was the best I could do!).

After a long day of lots of sightseeing, we finally headed back to MHS. Christina and I walked to the bus station to get tickets for our departure tomorrow (she's going to Chiang Rai via Chiang Mai and I'm going to Pai). She and I will meet up for a pork-less dinner in a little bit and maybe I can convince her to play a round or two of cards.

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My connection in MHS is decent enough for emailing and blog posting, but is horrible for picture uploading. I have about 87 MHS pictures so far and I hope to be caught up and all uploaded in the very near future.


  1. Sounds like a great day. I could not locate Mae Aw on Google Maps. )-:

    I look forward to the rest of the pictures.

    Love ya!

  2. Toadmama - Try this LP link: MHS is right in the center and there's a triangle of three flags above it. Mae Aw is the top one. I don't know if that will help or not. :-)

  3. ok - all sounds lovely. pictures are fantastic. but here's what i need you to do. turn arouns and go back to the long neck village and get me one of those scarves. ok? great. thanks! they look great! better than anything at target . . . ;) xoxoxL