At 10.30 a.m. the car from the Maekok River Resort Village arrived to whisk us north west for the jungle part of the travels. The drive with a pee break took 3 hours on mainly dual carriage way roads. For about 30 kms of the 200km journey it was two lane as we wound up a mountain and back down the other side. Every 40 kms or so we passed through small towns built along the side of Route 107 that provided the local people with eating stalls, paint shops, agricultural machinery shops, clothes shops selling western fashion, coffee stalls and a farmers type market. The fields were full of picked sweet corn plants waiting to be cut and used as animal feed and kilometre after kilometre of rice paddies stretching as far as the eye could see into the distance. It is the rice harvest now and trucks ladened with rice were moving back down the road to Chiang Mai and huge container loads to Bangkok. The driver a local from Mai Ai our nearest large town to the resort said that most of the harvest is now fully mechanised as too many of the workers had over the last few years left the farms and hill tribes to join the thousands flocking to the cities like the ever growing Chiang Mai. There was plenty of road construction going on widening further the road but no elephants working just huge JCB bulldozers etc. Wonder what they are training the elephants for at the 5 training camps/ tourist attractions in Chiang Mai ?
We arrived at 1.30 and had the first surprise when the owner turned out to be a Brit, Bryan Massingham ex geography teacher and Hong Kong resident who runs the hotel and an adventure school for visiting International schools and British and Australian schools on the same site.
It seems it is our time for film related stuff as we had just missed Messrs Clarkson, May and Hammond who had been staying here finishing a 2 hour special for Top Gear. We are in Richard’s suite and next door to Jeremy’s suite ! Ours is specially made for small people – no just kidding. The view from our balcony
Yes , yes here is the view from the Clarkson suite next door
and no I don’t know where May slept but it must have been nearby. There were 27 on the production team who were here for a month and the boys rode in for just a week.
What were they doing here? Well guess what ? I can’t tell you. Bryan whispered it to me but we as he are now bound to secrecy . However the river is the Kok River so knowing their propensity for innuendo you can probably guess what it might involve. The Thai word for pumpkin is also almost the f word so maybe another hint.
We are not in the jungle as much as I thought. The village of Thaton is but 1 km away but the jungle though not dense here is around us
The gardens of the hotel are stunning and I’ll post a few pictures over the next few days. The grounds are dotted with quiet sitting areas to relax read and watch the river run by punctuated on occasions with cheerful shouts from the various school parties visiting Bryan’s other business venture as they complete Duke of Edinburgh awards on the river. Tonight they are kayaking down the river to camp in the jungle for the night.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the great restaurant find from last night in Chiang Mai. If you come you must go to The Spirit House just up the road from the Opium Apartment Hotel. at #4 Soi Viang Bua. It is owned by an American guy who dealt in antiques in Thailand for 20 years and 8 years ago opened it using many of the antiques he had in his shop . The garden has light tentacle like roots growing down from a covered roof and loads of water features. So much so that the traffic noise from the busy road is totally drowned out, The interior part is where the antiquities are as well as a bar area. The menu is a mix of American and Thai dishes cooked by his Thai chef. I had been tipped off about it by an octogenarian Irishman called Tim in a bar the night before. He was reading an L.P. Hartley book that had been made into a successful film years ago and I had read the book and seen the film for a change so had a chat to him about it. He said go and try the meatloaf or eat Thai which is also superb. I took him at his word and had a superb meatloaf with tons of salad and chunky french fries triple fried so they were crisp but the couple opposite eating northern Thai said their’s was fantastic too.
Tim had lived for 50 years in Key West florida and had been through many hurricanes as Key West seems to get whacked by hurricanes heading up the east coast of Florida and by the ones heading into the gulf of Mexico bound for New Orleans or Cancun. After Andrew he decided enough was enough and moved to Thailand and Chiang Mai to live. Would he go back ? No chance he loves the people and the medical services in Chiang Mai which he reckons are better than the USA.
We are dinner bound now with a few drinkies before hand to improve the appetite. rather glad i’m not with the school party camping on the bank of the Kok. i was reading up about King Cobra snakes this morning and they don’t sound friendly at all.