It’s been a busy week—cooking school, two tours, attending a ChiangMai Internations.org event where I met some very interesting expats, and an extraordinary experience today that will be the highlight of my next blog entry.
This entry is about the tour I did yesterday—to the highest point in Thailand, Doi Inthanon, which is located in national park by the same name. On the way we stopped to see another hill tribe, the Karen. The Karen are one of the largest hill tribes in Southeast Asia. Most live in Burma and Laos, but it’s estimated that there are around 300,000 living in the hills of northern Thailand.
These people make their living farming on this land behind their village. The Karen are known for their use of “slash and burn” agricultural techniques, but this Thai tribe is learning sustainable farming though education provided by one of the King’s projects.
They also weave and sell beautiful and colorful things like this.
All the women in the village take their turn at the looms—mothers teach daughters. Women here marry very young—at 14 to 16 years old.
We also stopped at two waterfalls.
The smaller one is the Sirithan. I walked down (and up) the 142 steps to see this beauty.
The larger one is the Wachirathan Waterfall....a few steps up to this one. Thai steps, however, are not regulation size or height, and the size and height varies often, so you really have to watch your step.
And then we drove up, up, up to the highest point in Thailand. 2565 meters is 8,415 feet, which can’t compete with an Alp, or a Rocky Mountain but it beats the Smokies.
This is it....can you contain your excitement, please?
This young Thai couple sat next to me on the bus, but couldn’t speak much English. They were very sweet to me the whole day. This young woman's hands were freezing cold, even though the temperature was only slightly cool and warm in the sun.
On the way down the mountain, we stopped at the Twin Royal Pagodas, which were built by the Royal Thai Air Force and the people of Thailand to commemorate the 60th birthdays of their King and Queen. The gardens here were stunning.
The King’s pagoda is in the foreground and the Queen’s in the back.
There were many beautiful flowers and flower beds on tiers going up the hill to the pagodas
It was very peaceful and relaxing here, and not too many tourists.
Our last stop was at a King’s Project site. One of the significant projects sponsored by the king has been to teach the hill tribes of the north to grow vegetables, coffee, and tobacco instead of poppies for opium and heroin.
Here's a field of vegetables covered with plastic to protect them from the wind and cold air of mountain evenings.
There were also some beautiful gardens here and ponds.
I saw my first black swans. Look at those gorgeous red beaks.
There were 5 black swans here. And this one lonely white one.
More beautiful flowers.
And a lovely fern garden.
This was a very relaxing tour, and I had a seat at the front of the bus, so no sore back this time. Good thing, considering my next adventure.