On my way to the border at Mae Sai I spent a night in a town called Pa Sang, where I met Martin and Goi. Martin, a Swiss ex-pat and his wife Goi run a homestay in the town ( www.goi-homestay.co.nr ) I had seen a notice for a hotel down a back street and was investigating when I noticed a large Swiss flag hanging from a cross beam in front of the house. Martin was hula hooping in the yard and we struck up a conversation. I told him I was looking for somewhere to sleep so he invited me in and offered me a room for the night. If the offer of spending an evening chatting and laughing with Martin and Goi wasn't enough the addition of home baked bread with butter and strawberry jam sealed it for me. I haven't had bread since I stayed with Robert and Kung two weeks ago. Martin cycles too and we spent a very pleasant evening talking over places we had both been. He suggested that I ride up to Doi Tung and visit the garden of Mae Fa Luang on my way to the border. It's steeper than the Mae Hong Son roads he told me, "but for you, no problem". I'm not sure what he based that upon but the gardens sounded great, so I set off in the morning to see for myself.
I set off at 8.15 and warmed up my legs over the first 15 km before I began the climb that would lead to a descent, then another climb, another descent, and finally the monster steep climb that Martin told me about. To be honest all three climbs were steeper than those on the Mae Hong Son loop. I was working so hard on the climbs that even my sweat was sweating. The descent after the visit to the garden and royal palace was just as steep which meant that my forearms were hurting on the descent just as much as my legs were on the climb. The gardens at Doi Tung were the idea of the late Princess mother (mother of the present king) Somdej Phra Srinagarindra, as an alternative to the opium trade that flourished along the border with Myanmar (the former Burma). The palace was built as a summer residence but the Princess mother wanted to improve the lives of the local people and initiated a project to reforest the mountain and to reeducate the local tribes to stop them slashing and burning the remaining forest. Today the area is as much of a jungle as other areas and the locals are employed growing plants or catering to the tourist trade.
The garden is not large but manages to pack in a huge amount onto the ten acres of gently sloping ground. I was very pleased to have made the trip as the garden is beautiful. The combined ticket allowed entrance to the palace too. Not as grand as it sounds the palace is a purpose built teak house large enough for a royal retinue without being grandiose or ostentatious. Everything from the floor, windows, furniture roof and floor are made of teak. No photos are allowed of the interior which is why I am not able to put them here although no doubt they are available on the internet somewhere. For the equivalent of about two pounds 50 pence it's good value if you can get there, although it's off the beaten track and quite a climb. I don't see a royal palace and gardens in the UK ever being that cheap.
A steep downhill blast into Mae Sai and an overnight stay in the border town before crossing to Myanmar in the morning completed the ride. There were a few police check points along the way. I stopped just the once to take a photo before being waved through each one. The town is a bustling melting pot of tribes and nationalities. The Chinese presence is evident all over town, as the Chinese border is just 200 kms away. It's going to be my first border crossing in Asia and allow me an extra 15 days in Thailand when I re-enter.
It should be an interesting day out.

11/03/2013 18:09

hi andy. looks like ur having a good time, i have tried to call but just callback, i have a new number, cheaper calls to the wife +447457094235, give me miss call ok.happy all is going good, can u see now why i have a house there, much better than this place. look forward to talking soon and take care, justin


Leave a Reply.