Saturday, February 23, 2013

Doi Inthanon National Park

Friday, Feb. 22: The Doi Inthanon National Park is a living park. Many people live within the park and many monuments are within its bounds.
We stop first at two lovely waterfalls.
Wachiratharn Waterfall
Siritharn Waterfall
The Siritharn Waterfall is a favorite of the Queen.
We briefly stop to look at the weavers of the Hmong hill tribe and of course buy something.

Back strap looms are more portable, but weave simpler items  with a smaller width.
Up to the top of the mountain, but the air is misty obscuring the view.
White rhododendrons in bloom

The summit. Cool here but not cold. Just comfortable for us.
Just down from the summit are two gorgeous pagodas and flower gardens built by the Royal Air Force to honor the king and Queen on their respective 60th birthdays in 1989 and 1992. We loved this stop and it is delightfully cool.

We like the Queen's pagoda and flower garden best.
After lunch it is time for snacks. Tamarind again. The pods are delicious, but the seeds make them so dangerous. I don't know why they don't take out the seeds, then candy the pods.
Then on to the White Karen hill tribe village where we will spend the night.
The government has provided a lot of benefits to this tribe that lives here in the national park with a number of  goals in mind. Their agriculture is subsidized so they have no inclination to grow opium as they did in the past. The village has been electrified, provided with running water and sewer and many streets are paved to discourage them from moving from place to place as they used to. They are encouraged to make and sell handicrafts, flowers and their own shade grown coffee.  Also they are helped to build guest houses, which they live in at times, to rent to Thai tour companies in the home stay project.  We are spending the night with a family in the village.
We and our guide sleep in the big new house with the blue roof. the family sleeps in the  house  to the left.
Our guide cooks dinner for us in the family house over an open wood fire in a wok on a stone tripod. The fire pit is lined with brick. The rest of the house, walls and floor are made of split bamboo. The floors also have some bamboo mats. You can see through the walls and floor and the bamboo gives as you walk on it, a strange sensation. No furniture. They are used to sitting on the floor. And dinner is here on the floor. Delicious. No bugs, but one vegetable is some squash plant leaves and stems.  Our guide did cook us an omelet with some ant larvae in it one day. it was really good.

Our room is large but bare with a thin futon and blankets. We sleep on one of the comforters to add a bit  more cushioning. Old bones are not used to a thin pad on hard boards. The mosquito net is fun. But no mosquitoes now. The floor covering is contact paper. Our guide sleeps in a small room to the side.
Chickens run around the yard. The chickens have a house at night and they gather eggs as they need them and let the hens hatch others. The pig is off to the side not under the house. They used to always have the pig under the house, but this was too smelly for the home stay.  They have large individual and communal plots and some garden plots next to the houses.
Before and after dinner we have had time to walk through part of the town.

Remember when everyone just had to have one of these cute miniature furry pigs. 

cows and their guard/herd dog

baby pigs!

The White Karen have their own language which is unwritten. The adults usually speak some Thai, but usually only White Karen among themselves. The children often start school at 5 knowing only White Karen. They go to this school until they are 8 or 9 and learn to speak, read and write Thai. They continue school in the next town. Many adults did not have these educational opportunities.
They have a communal coffee shop which we will visit for breakfast in the morning.  They grow, pick and roast their own coffee. They drink a lot themselves and sell bags of beans, here and in the local market.

Saturday, Feb,. 23rd:  Our guide fixes us breakfast and brings it to us in the coffee shop
The workers going out to the fields pack their lunches of rice and egg folded up in a banana leaf package tied with a bamboo string.

 William plans his hike through the jungle with our guide and a jungle guide. I stay and visit with the ladies at the coffee shop and walk to a local weaver's house.
William in the jungle:
The jungle guide and William, tough men.

Our guide May fell behind the men.

A shade grown coffee plantation.
Me with the weavers; Since they knew no English and my Thai is limited to Thank You and Hello., we spoke by each other and I added a lot of gestures.
carding wool

spinning wool
They obtain wool and cotton from elsewhere and card, spin and dye their thread for weaving.
Heading back to Chiang Mai we have lunch at a stand that does BBQ. Thai BBQ. Fish stuffed with leaves and coated with salt, chicken and pork. all delicious.

No comments: