Road Trip: Pong Arng Hot Springs

After the Sri Sangwan waterfall, we went back down the road a couple miles to the Pong Arng hot springs. They were a pair of natural hot water springs coming from underground. The water was scalding hot and smelled like rotten eggs. The flow hot water was combined with a flow of cold water and the result was diverted into a couple pools where people can get in and soak.

090815 Pong Arng Hot Springs

But if you're thinking about going to the springs, realize there are rules to obey. My favorite? Don't be a loud nois (sic)!

The Market: Part 2

In a previous post I wrote a little bit about the market I buy fruit from. Fruit's not the only thing I buy from this market, usually I get lunch as well. The lady I buy lunch from is Khun Moonban, and she was also recommended to me by my Thai friends. Now when you look at the picture below, don't be fooled by the simple-looking work conditions. This lady makes the best phat phak ruam gai (stir fried mixed veggies) in Thailand, and that's my favorite dish. Whereas some food vendors make their food early in the morning and leave it laying around in open containers (can you say flies?), Khun Moonban makes hers fresh every time on those piping hot skillets.

090821 Khun Moonban

Road Trip: Sri Sangwan Waterfall

So after our failure in finding the Mon Hin Lai waterfall, we set off to return home. Along the way we saw signs to a different national park, one with the Sri Sangwan waterfall. We decided to head that way and see what we could see. This waterfall was well-marked and easy to find. As it was part of a national park, there was fee to enter, and the fee for foreigners was 10 times that of nationals. Fortunately when I flashed my Thai driver's license, I got charged the nationals fee.

The waterfall itself was not that tall or amazing, but it was still nice.

090815 Sri Sangwan Waterfall

What was cool about this park was the way the designers have cleverly split the water so that it criss-crosses its way throughout the park. The result is a lush tropical garden that was fun to walk through. Some of the bamboo plants were staggering in their height. Overall we enjoyed this park, and we should probably return some day when we can walk through the rest of it.

Road Trip: In the Middle of Nowhere

After frolicking in the Buatang waterfall, we set off to find the Mon Hin Lai waterfall. We find the right mile marker, err...kilometer marker. We found the sign pointing off the main highway. But then we couldn't find anything else. There was supposed to be a park headquarters, a trail for hiking, and the waterfall. We drove all through the countryside, but we couldn't find anything. We even called a Thai friend for help--they have cell coverage in the boonies!--flagged down other motorists, and had them talk by cell; all to no avail. We never found it. We did see great views of the countryside.

090815 Looking for waterfalls

Road Trip: Buatang Waterfall

We took off bright and early Saturday morning on a road trip. Our primary goal was to find the Mon Hin Lai waterfall, a 9-level, 100 meter tall set of falls, and along the way we hoped to find see several other sights as well. The area we drove to was about an hour north of town. Our first stop was the Mae Ngud Reservoir, which supplies water to Chiang Mai. It was a huge, earthen dam. Our second stop was the Buatong Waterfall which is fed by the nearby Ched See spring. The clear water goes down three levels over limestone rocks, which made for a great wading area for the kids. As it turned out, this was probably the highlight of our day.

090815 Buatang Waterfall

After a quick picnic lunch, we took off again.

The Rest of the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens

Since it was the Queen's birthday, and since that makes it mother's day, and since Ann is a mother, and since she was with us at the gardens, and since we were at the Queen's gardens, we got into the gardens for free and got a free lunch, a plate of rice and chicken. Not a bad deal. So we spent a little extra money buying ice cream and soda to cool us off--it was a long walk. The kids, of course, enjoyed the ice cream immensely.

The final part of our walk took us to a small waterfall in the gardens, which the kids played in for a while.

090812 Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens

And then we headed home. Of course, no outing in Thailand would be complete without seeing at least one elephant walking along the side of the road.

Flowers at Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens

The final stop in our Grand Family Adventure was the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens, northwest of Chiang Mai, Thailand. It's the first botanical garden in the country, and you can read more about its background and its attractions. Although you can drive through the gardens, we left the truck at the entrance and walked the 4 or 5 kilometers, taking one break in a gazebo to wait out a thunderstorm.

My favorite part was the plants and flowers, which were available in a dizzying array of variety. There were carnivorous plants, water plants, cacti, tropical plants, variegated plants, and a whole bunch more I couldn't even hope to identify. Perhaps my favorite was this lotus, a water plant:

090812 Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens

Tat Krok Waterfall

Not long after the sign for the Tad-Yoy waterfall was a sign for another waterfall, Tat Krok. We decided to give it a try, so off we went again. We found several interesting sites along the way, including a very twisty tree before we finally found the waterfall itself. Perhaps the cutest thing we saw was this little guy:

090812 Tat Krok Waterfall

Tad-Yoy Waterfall

Today is the Queen's birthday. Which means today is also Mother's Day. Which means today is also a holiday. So, having the day off, we decided to have a Grand Family Adventure. Ann looked at a map and found neat places to explore outside of Chiang Mai, so we filled the truck up with gas and took off into the mountains towards Somoeng. If you've ever driven in the mountains of West Virginia along the back roads (interstates don't count), then you know the kind of driving we did today.

As we drove we saw a sign that said there was a waterfall ahead. That sounded good, so we stopped and plunged into the jungle. We were immediately greeted by this forlorn sign.

090812 Tad-Yoy Waterfall

The less than totally well kept signed should have prepared for the condition of the pathway we would have to traverse upon. Jacen and I found some sticks to widen the path at times. But after a short walk and a climb down a few rocks we made it. The waterfall itself wasn't too big, but it was nice to admire for a few minutes.

We climbed back up, and I went to the top of the falls to see what was there. I found a tree with these strange-looking fruit. Anyone know what it is? Leave a comment with your best guess.

090812 Tad-Yoy Waterfall

Dinner in a...bag?

If you had told us a year ago that we would regularly be eating out of a bag, I don't think we would have believed you. Yet here we are. Want to hear a Thai person's perception of reality? Poor people eat out; only rich people eat at home. It's simply cheaper to eat out, so we eat out a lot and do takeout a most days a week. And take out means dinner in a bag. The dishes in the picture below are sweet-and-sour chicken and stir-fried veggies with chicken served over the ever-present white rice. There's a little too much MSG and oil in there to be healthy, but at least there's a variety of veggies. And both were delicious!

090804 Dinner in a Bag

Rice Fields

While Chiang Mai may have a population of a quarter million or so, it still very much feels like a country town. I was driving to a friend's house yesterday when I came across these rice paddies, tucked away in a small piece of farmland between two neighborhoods. The fields around here were flooded a couple weeks ago, and now the farmers are beginning to plant their rice.

090803 Rice Field