Mae Hong Son to Pai to Chiang Rai

On the road from Mae Hong Son to Pai

The      traditional dress.  Going over the mountain road from Mae Hong Son to Pai

Members of the Lisu Tribe at the summit on route 1085,  from Mae Hong Son to Pai

.

.

View from the road

the mountains of NW Thailand on the way to the town of Pai

.

.

Views from loop road

Views from the Pai-Mae Hong Son-Chaing Mai loop road

.

.

Tham Pla (fish cave),  Phaseau National Park

Blind Carp -- live mostly in a cave

Tham Pla (fish cave) at Phaseau National Park with blind Plapung fish, who mostly live in the underground caves that supply this stream.

.

This little guy was having a blast feeding the fish

This little guy was having a blast feeding the fish.

.

“THAM LOD”  (Lod Cave)

We took a short 10 km detour off the main road, near Pang Mapha, to visit a well-known cave in this part of Thailand: the Tham Lod.  The Nam Lang River Runs clear through this mountain.  As this part of thailand is rife with Karst topography, there are a lot of unusual caverns to be explored.  The length of the Tham Lot is about 1666 meters; not long, but with wonderful rooms inside.  The cave is also home to large numbers of bats and swifts. There were hundreds of fish in the river’s water and it was very shallow.  We took along some fish-food.

We walked down the ½ mile path to where the Nam Lang River flows into the mouth of the Tham Lod.  Guides take both native and foreign visitors alike on narrow rafts made of bamboo and illuminated only by small lanterns, into the five-story opening of this lofty cavern.  In fact you MUST hire a local tribal guide with a lantern to take you through the cave. 

The interior of Tham Lod was over 100 feet wide in some places, its ceiling covered in long stalactites mottled by the reflections of the water below.  In the middle of the cave, we pulled up to a gravelly beach and set off on foot.  We walked up the slippery path (by the  light of the gas lantern—not very good for walking behind, and definitely not good for the health of the formations!) to view geologic formations sprouting from the floor and ceiling, and forming majestic flowstone columns where stalactites and stalagmites have grown together. Delighted the cockles of Gary’s heart, the ole’ geomorphologist!

After getting back on the raft, we made one another stop that was habituated by bats in the day, and swifts at night.  We climbed up very steep wood stairs to view ancient log coffins; carved teakwood coffins which are thought to have been carved by the Lawa tribes people a thousand or so years ago.  These type of coffins have been found elsewhere in Thailand, but usually only a dozen or so in a single cave, leading archeologists to believe that it was only the upper echelon of their culture who were buried there.  

Rafts to travel in the cave

Rafts to travel into the Nam Lod cave

.

inside

Just beyond the entrance of the cave.

.

Crap in cave

Lots of blind fish in the cave.  We caused a feeding-frenzy when we threw some fish-food over the side.

.

Grave landing where we walked up to view the

Gravel landing area where we got to explore the many rooms filled with stalagmites and stalactites

.

Beginning of the stalagmites

The beginning of new stalagmites: just a few more 100,000 years!

.

larger

larger stalagmites forming

.

Even larger

Even larger stalagmite — pretty impressive size

.

Our lantern guide for the cave

Our lantern guide for the cave – didn’t need flashlights,  although the fumes are not good for the cave formations.  You could see soot and oil everywhere.

.

Other visitors on a raft

Other visitors on their way inside.

.

Amazing cave

Amazing cave.  This was looking back at the entrance.

.

View to get out

View of cave’s exit

.

xxx

Exit of cave for us , but the entrance to thousands of bats and swifts.

.

1,000 to 1,500 year old wood coffins

1,000 to 1,500 year old teakwood coffins.  People place coins to assist “the spirits of those departed”.

.

xxx

Washing my hands after climbing the steep stairs in the bat cave!

.

She was curious about our age -- said we were "Strong"

Our intrepid  guide through Tham Lod.  She was curious about our age — said we were “Very Strong” — I guess cause we could climb all the stairs in the cave and keep up with her ?

.

.

Pai

Pai, a small town in northern Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province near the Myanmar border. It is predominantly tourism-oriented and supports a large a vibrant backpacker scene.  The resident/tourist mix here is that of Western hippies, Thai rastas, and even Muslims ( there is a large Mosque in the center of town).   After settling into our hotel (a couple of miles out of town), we went into Pai for dinner and a walked around the town’s night market.  It was a different atmosphere than other night markets, although similar tourist items for sale.  We did find a very western bakery and coffee shop and we had a piece of “ribbon cake” and “chocolate tort” with a great cappuccino! What an unexpected treat.  We didn’t feel like we were in SE Asia at all.

.

Evening Pia river scene in town

Evening river scene inPai

.

Early a.m. I  went to the produce market with our guide to buy food for the monks for early morning alms.  This was different from the one I experienced in Luang Prabang, as monks came by individually, and would offer a blessing to each person who gave them some food.  The alms here were more than just sticky rice –it  included normal breakfast from the market and some locals also gave them money.

.

Morning alms

Morning alms

.

.

Black LaHu Village

Later that day we travelled up the side of a hill to visit another tribe we had not seen before: that of the Black LaHu.   Their traditional dress is black and white, although like other villages, they wear a lot of western clothes since cheap goods from China are easy to get ahold of.  It was evident that this was a much poorer village than any other we had been in, and we also understand it was one that  tourists don’t visit.

Our guide was familiar with them and we stopped at a market in town to buy cookies, thread and needles to give them.  This was not the village on the Kok River that we were scheduled to stop at which in fact does see a lot of tourists.  We were grateful to have this opportunity to interact.

The women villagers came out quickly to get the thread and needles and we were saddened  when we ran out of thread to give everyone.  The cookies were a big hit with both the children and women.  Since they are primarily a village of farmers, the men were out in the fields down the valley at this time.  They had clean fresh water and a great working rice separator that was used by all the farmers to shell their harvest.   We visited the school grounds and chatted with the teacher, who is Thai, and we gave her the rest of the cookies to give out later.  Only really young, non-school age children were in evidence in the village while we were there.  There was a big Buddhist celebration down in the valley, and the kids were working with that village’s kids to get ready for the festivities.  The interesting thing for us?  The Black LaHu people are animist!  But they all get along and help each other out in a myriad of ways . . .

.

The village

The Black LaHu village

.

Women on their way to another village

Women on their way to another village.

.

Anxious to get the needle and thread

Anxious to get the needle and thread gifts, even right out from under the water pipe shower!

.

lunch time

lunch time — She also has dyed grass that they make bracelets out of.  (I bought a number of these)

.

faces

Years of beetle-nut crewing.  The betel nut is actually a nut from the areca palm tree.  When chewed with the leaves, it provides a mild stimulus that causes a warming sensation in the body.  It is addictive and does cause cancer.  But is an OLD habit throughout S.E.Asia.

.

xxx

Many women did the weaving as they walked and talked

.

cc

More beetle nut evidence.  It’s mixed with tobacco leaves when chewed sometimes.  Makes it more additive though.

.

xxx

Wished we knew more about these people.

.

Loved his cookie

Loved his cookies

.

Just heard there were foreigners with cookies

Just heard there were foreigners with cookies!

.

Main path through village

Main path paved through village. Thai govt paved this, though the improved water supply and other improvements were provided by NGO’s from overseas.

.

.

Long Tailed Boat Trip on the Nam Kok River   (from Thaton to Chiang Rai)

Now it was time to sit back and take in the scenery in a more relaxing position!  We were treated to a lengthy “long-tailed boat” ride from Tha Ton to Chaing Rai on a splendid river, with clear blue skies and a fresh breeze.  It was a beautiful ride.

We were late getting to our embarkation point, ’cause as usual, we always seem to be behind schedule: there is SO MUCH to see and do here, its hard to keep up!  We made a few more stops  on the way, so it would be early evening when we finally arrived in Chiang Rai.  Being the dry season the water was low and the boat driver had to be careful to pick the channels that were deep enough for the boat.   We enjoyed the scenes along the way of rice fields, banana fields, pineapple fields, sugar cane.  To our surprise, many of these fields had automatic sprinkling systems for irrigation.

We had just enough time and light left to make one more stop, at a hot spring along the river, which seemed so out of place with all the banana trees around it.

.

Catching our long tail boat

Catching our long-tail boat

.

The hot springs

The hot springs at Lam Nam Kok National Park

.

on the way to Chiang Rai

on the way to Chiang Rai, guess what, another buddhist temple!

.

Just before pulling into Chiang Rai

WOW!  Sunset just as we were pulling into Chiang Rai

.

.

About Smiling Road Warriors!

2 happy retirees, movin' along . . .
This entry was posted in Northern Thailand. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mae Hong Son to Pai to Chiang Rai

  1. Lisa Fuller says:

    I have been reading all your posts, wow. How very interesting and what an experience! Sorry to hear about an illness ending your trip early but now you can start planning your return trip. Thanks for sharing. Lisa

  2. Boots Neufeld says:

    So sorry Gary got sick and you have to cut short your trip. Trust he is feeling better. No fun being sick on a long plane ride. Your commits have been great and your pictures beautiful. You have been great travelers. Safe journey and back to modern conveniences.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s