Sunday, March 6, 2011

Doi Tung and surrounds

It's been a few days since I returned from San Phor Loi, which isn't far from Doi Tung (Doi = Mountain and Tung = Ceremonial or holy banner, in Lanna). Home to great Thai Coffee, Mae Fah Luang Gardens and the late Princess Mother's Royal Villa.

Ms P couldn't let me leave without a quick visit and decided it was best if we took a songthaew up the mountain. For obvious reasons, I stayed in the pickup while (she dropped a name) and negotiated a good price for the short return trip. The gardens are just beautiful!!! and I half expected a fairy or two to flutter by during our visit.
The garden sits where the (relocated) Akha village of Pa Kluay once did, and in past years was a thoroughfare for drug and weapons trafficking.
"Continuity", a sculpture by the late Misiem Yip In Soi.
The Royal Villa situated on a nearby hill, over looks the gardens, making for the floral tapestry view above. No photos, videos or shoes permitted inside! The wood paneling in the villa is made from recycled pine shipping crates. The building has a rustic, simple but stylish, feel about it. Her Royal Highness enjoyed the time she spent in Switzerland, while her children were completing their education, thus decided to construct a home which combined the elements she liked about mountain houses in both Europe and Northern Thailand.
The Grand Reception Hall
Back down the slopes of Doi Tung and off to the Golden Triangle. It was my second visit here so I didn't snap very many snaps. Looking north you can see the Golden Triangle Paradise Resort...advertised everywhere as being in Chiang Rai province, Thailand, but it's really in Myanmar!!!
And, over to the Lao side of the Mekong River, sits a monumental but contraversial Chinese owned casino. I could have sworn that wasn't there in 2009 and everything looked a lot greener and lush, on both banks.
Construction across the river and road works on this side.
Taken from a riverside cafe in 2009
And, yet another casino.
I much prefer the Thai side of the Mekong, with shrines a plenty, surrounded by market stalls and riverside cafes.

One last stop before we head back to the village. I think the story goes a little like this...

Below the cliff where Wat Phra That Pha Ngao now sits, the towns folk where relocating a wat that was being eroded by the Mekong River tides. They chose a site near a deserted temple further inland. During the excavation of the site a torso of the image of Buddha was discovered under the base of a much larger and crumbling Buddha. The excavation was halted after the top half of the statue was revealed and a bot (prayer hall) constructed to enshrine it and what remains of the older image.
The smaller unearthed statue sits below and infront of the
old larger torso of Buddha
The walls of the bot are completely covered in bronze coloured relief sculptures, the doors and window shutters  are carved from, I presume, teak, and protected by glass.
Right now I'm sitting on the balcony of hotel heaven (a different story all together), so can't complain. But, in November, I hope the plan to return to the Ms P's warm and welcoming village comes to fruision so I share it with Stray 

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai


Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap, what a glorious time you've been having. And the way you've presented both photos and text makes it almost like being there.

Do you know any more about the sculpture? Is he the same artist who's beautiful bronzes grace the gardens in BKK?

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Catherine I'm not sure about the sculptures in the BKK gardens, but I think she specialised in children and figurines. She was also a very talented painter.

Paul Garrigan said... Best Blogger Tips

Great picture Snap - is that how you got your nickname :-) I like these types of places but it is probably not exciting enough for my son - maybe when he is older.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Paul Garrigan My girls would have been pestering me to go home or trying to run amock at most of these places...and you do need time to stroll around.

No, that's not where Snap came from, nor is it a reference to my temper ;)

scarves said... Best Blogger Tips

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Today is March 8, women wish the whole world happy holidays, always beautiful!
besides,thanks for your sharing!

Lani said... Best Blogger Tips

The gardens are truly one of the most special places in Northern Thailand. I really enjoyed my visit two years ago and funnily I was looking at those pictures the other day when lo and behold I saw your post!

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Lani my hostess said the village of Mae Fah Luang is stunning also, so I can't wait to go back to take a look.