Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mae Hong Son and the Mae Sakut Jungle Trail, Return to Chiang Mai

12/01/10 - 13/01/10

So we started our next leg of the trip by taking a short 30 minute flight northwest of Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son. Our aircraft was an ATR72 - a propellor plane. It was strange to go from Thai Airways' largest aircraft (Boeing 747) to this tiny little dinghy of a plane.

Thankfully the flight was short, as the plane was very loud and the flight attendant didn't seem very likeable. I don't reay blame him, though. Being
stuck in a tiny backwater route like Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son must be quite an unpleasant day job.

Arriving in Mae Hong Son, we were shuttled to our accommodation at the "Fern Resort". To anyone reading this blog: if you ever end up in this neck of the woods, STAY HERE! The resort is divine, with several creeks running over the property, and those little "bamboo water features" that fill and empty themselves every 20 seconds are everywhere. There are also lots and lots of rice paddies around and the sound of running water is constant. It really does give the property a serene feel.

My favourite feature of the resort is that it is run by staff from the local villages. This means that the service isn't of the same quality as that of a high-end hotel, but at the same time, you're contributing to giving these local people full time jobs in a very quiet and jobless area of the country.

Emma and I found the food particularly enjoyable as well. While it was a bit pricier than that of a regular restaurant, the quality and authenticiy was excellent.

As you can probably tell from my ramblings about the resort, we didn't spend much time away from it. On Wednesday though, we did go for a trek along the Mae Sakut Jungle trail. The scenery was fantastic, and a bubbling creek flowed close to the trail. One thing that Emma and I were thankful for though was our industrial strength mosquito repellant. *We* chased the mosquitoes away, not the other way around!

We had a rest by a small waterfall and contemplated going for a swim. We decided not to though, as it would not be good for the environment what with aforementioned uber repellant.

I did wash my face in the water though, and it was blissfuly cool. Emma and I hung out at the waterfall for around half an hour and then headed back along the jungle trail to the resort.

Another delicious lunch was had, and then before we knew it, we were on a plane back to Chiang Mai again. It was the exact same ATR72 as the previous day, with the same registration, same pilot and the same flight attendant.

The flight attendant didn't seem to be as grumpy on this flight though, possibly because there was a second flight attendant on board, so the load of handing out tiny little cakes and cups of water was far less strenuous on him. Either that or he was just lonely on the first flight. Who knows?

After de-boarding the aircraft (and seeing today's non-broken and on-time Thai Airways 747 service from Bangkok) we were whisked away to an overnight stay at Rati Lanna Riverside Resort.

So it turns out that this is a 5-Star hotel, and boy does it show! Everything is very expensive, but the room is easily the nicest we've had so far. I couldn't remember how much we had paid for the room, as I paid for it months ago on Turns out that it is only $117 a night! I really wish that Australia had cheap and awesome hotels...

Tomorrow, we fly out for Phuket! Beach time! It'll be the first sunset-over-the-water I've seen in my life!

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