Chiang Mai 2012 Day 2: Further Up North to Mae Salong

This is the second part in a continuing travelogue series. For the first part read here.

Day 2 started bright and early, we took an early morning hike around our beautiful resort and took more pics before breakfast. Beautiful flowers everywhere.


For breakfast we took a short drive to Chiang Dao town. This is a very small town, with military training camp nearby. There are no tourists here, but our tour guide extraordinaire Calvin brought us to an excellent local restaurant. It looks our local warong, except that its much cleaner.


They cooked noodles and rice and other Thai pastries for breakfast, Calvin recommended we try the pad Thai. It was very, very good. Suffice to say, this was the first of my many, many pad Thai meals in Thailand.


Some of us had the fried rice and fried kuey teow (large torn noodles like pan mee). And here’s all of us having a great (not to mention cheap) breakfast. Hannah isn’t smiling coz she didn’t get to sit by the window in the van on the way here.


The along with breakfast was the highlight of the meal – coffee. I dunno, there’s something about the local coffee that I love, just the right sweetness and bitterness.


The coffee actually came from this coffeeshop next to the warong.


Calvin also bought us this tasty cake, sort of like an egg tart but filled with white stuff. Finished before i could take a pic. After brekkie we went back on the road. You will notice that now all three kids got to sit by the window.

Next destination – Mae Salong. Its about an two hour’s drive further up north, going uphill all the way. We stopped by another Tesco for more shopping, we bough a six pack of Chang beer (apparently in Mae Salong there are hardly any convenience store) but i couldn’t find bacon flavour Lay’s potato chips. WHYYY??!!!


All the way we had peacefully countryside scenery. Lots of farmlands growing corn, dragonfruit, sugarcane. As we drove higher and higher and higher, There were tea plantations. 30 years ago, these were all used to grow poppies for the lucrative drug trade.


Anyway, we reached Mae Salong just before lunch. This is a quaint little town – very small, one street town going up hill. It looks exactly like a Chinese village here, everything is in Chinese and everyone speaks Mandarin. But no, this is still Thailand. Most of the people here are descendents of the former Kuomintang Chinese Army 93rd Division who moved from Burma to Thai territory in 1961, and some tribal Akah folks.


Before exploring the town further, we stopped by this famous Yunnanese noodle shop recommended by Calvin.



Very special dish, everything’s handmade. Tastes like our laa mein.


Some Akah tribeswomen trekking to the town centre market to sell their craft. You see them everywhere in Mae Salong in their red scarves and blue shirts.


After lunch we checked into our resort, the Flower Hills Resort. To say the place is impressive and breathtaking is an understatement. You gotta be there to see it. This is the view when you enter the resort.


The lobby.


Lots of cats around here. Dunno why this shot reminds me of Tan Hui Ling.





But the rooms are a bit spartan, but no complaints from us since it was so cheap.


After lunch adults took a snooze, while kids played in the pool. The view from the swimming pool is stunning. In Mont’Kiara, you’d pay RM2mil for an apartment like this and they call it an ‘infinity pool’.


At about 4pm we took a drive to the Chinese Martyrs’ Memorial Museum. Just outside the Museum there’s a teashop owned by Calvin’s friend, the granddaughter of the general who led the KMT army here. Here, she sells all sorts of tea, made from weird stuff like safflower, bitter gourd, and other plants i’d rather not know about.


She speaks in Mandarin, even the Thai assistant speaks better Mandarin than me.


The way they drink tea is using this special two piece teacup set. The tea is pouring into the cylinderical part, and overturned into the other teacup. You quickly lift the cylinderical part and the tea flows into the cup. Don’t hesitate while doing this or the boiling tea will spill all over you hand, like it happened TO ME.


Once separated you can smell the cylinderical cup to appreciate the tea, then you rub your hands on it like this, as it sometimes can get really cold at night up here in the mountains.


The lady boss owns 3 very beautiful cats, this one is the best of the lot. It has bluish green eyes.


Anyway, after drinking far too many cups of tea (for free, might i add) we went into the Museum.




Kind of a stoic place, reminding us of the struggles of the army fighting the communists and drug warlords in return for Thai citizenship for the soldiers.



After the Museum we headed back to town to check out the daily market. Here you see stalls selling mainly clothes, tea, nuts, tea, tea, and more tea.


The Akah tribeswomen sell freshly plucked vegetables and trinkets. Their groundnuts are especially good.


An Akah lady and her cute son.


Then we went to this restaurant cum hotel serving the best Yunnanese food in town.


(This little pink jedi knight’s mood has improved since the swimming session)



The guy on the right is the patriach of the family, he owns the hotel and restaurant. He was a former Lt Col (not sure of the rank, my Mandarin not powderful) in the KMT army. A true Nationalist. Most of the other soldiers emigrated to Taiwan, but this one stayed back. Our tour guide Calvin knows him very well (He seems to know every other person in this town).


The food, well, it was great, of course. Highlight of the meal is the braised pork knuckles with man tou, called te kar, exactly like how the Hokkiens call it. What did the char siew pau say to the man tou? “You got no feeling.”


Can you imagine a hearty meal for 8 people cost us less than RM80? You can’t even feed 4 people here in KL with that.


After dinner, it was back to the hotel. This is the tea shop in the resort lit up at night.


Since we were the only large group in the hotel that night, all of us spent a long in this pavilion enjoying free wi-fi, groundnuts, Chang beer and good company.


Tomorrow: Walking around Mae Salong and onwards to Maesai.


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