Travel: Over the hills and far away

(From The Nation)

A long and winding road leads from the eastern side of Inthanon Mountain to the western side and the distance has kept Mae Chaem hidden for centuries. Part of Chiang Mai Province, which welcomes hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, Mae Chaem feels like a lost hinterland tucked deep in a valley beyond the high Thanon Thong Chai range.

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Folks in the deep valley have Inthanon Mountain – at 2,565 metres, Thailand’s highest – to thank or perhaps blame for the slow evolution of progress.

“Every morning small bands of monks, novices and children walk across the rice paddy fields to collect alms,” says Pop, a travel journalist who relocated to Mae Chaem five years ago.

“The temple kids strike the gong to alert the villagers that the monks are heading to their homes, so they had better prepare their alms. You hardly see this outside Mae Chaem.”

It is possible to reach Mae Chaem by following the road from Hot district but this takes a lot longer than the four-hour drive over the hills and isn’t nearly as pleasurable. Read More



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