Rhythm of the Green
Rhythm of the Green
Story & Photos by Chaton Chokpattara
The monsoon season is here, life returns to the fields and the mountains. It’s an amazing time to explore the peaceful lifestyle of the people living in harmony with nature. See the farmers getting their rice paddies ready for cultivation, dried streams being revived by July’s rain, and life begins flourish on the mountains. The Monsoon Season, or rainy season, is definitely not the time to be hiding from the rain; therefore we are taking you to Chiangmai to explore the lush nature of Lanna.
Baan Mae Klang Luang – Wonderful Terrace Rice Fields
Amidst the cooling fog on the tallest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon, is a small Karen village known to only a few travelers. Baan Mae Klang Luang is home to a small group of ethnic minority called Karen and they have been living harmoniously with the land for generations.
Although there are only a little over 100 families living here, the village is further divided into 4 smaller communities including Baan Ang-ka Noi, Baan Mae Klang Luang, Baan Nonglom, and Baan Pha Morn. Agriculture is the main income here and you will find quality rice, corn, strawberry, coffee, and other crops which are mostly supplied to the Royal Project. A vast variety of crops allows the villagers to have consistent income as different crops can be harvested at different seasons.
Agro-tourism also flourishes here with an increasing number of tourists, especially during the rainy season when the terrace rice paddies provide a spectacular backdrop view to the village. As the rainy season approaches from May till June, villagers will start to plant new sets of rice saplings, and by September – October, the whole valley will be covered in lush green rice fields.
Urbanization may be on the foot of Doi Inthanon Mountain, but the ethnic minority still conserves a peaceful and amiable lifestyle. The best way to get back to nature is to stay in a small hut by the terrace of rice fields. Let go of everything and take in the alluring scenery and fresh air. Wake up early and be a part of nature, see rice up close, learn how foods are actually grown instead of just picking them off the shelf of a local supermarket.
Baan Mae Klang Luang isn’t just known for its terrace rice paddies, but the villagers are also proud of their coffee beans. Local Arabica coffee beans are roasted, brewed, and served at a local café amidst rice paddies named “Oom Erb”. You can also catch a ride to the famous “Somsak Café”, where Mr. Somsak roast, grind, and brew his coffee in the traditional way; using a kettle, firewood, and local coffee beans. His coffee is then served in his traditional Karen hut.
Baan Ra-bieng Nar – Par Bong Pieng
After a restful day at Baan Mae Klang Luang, it’s time to head to Mae Jam along the road that takes you through beautiful valleys and mountain range.
The narrow dirt road leads us through “Par Bong Pieng” Clift and it’s time to stop at the first scenic point to capture the magnificent scene of the rising sun painting the cloud pink and shining a soft morning ray on the sleeping valley. You can see the beautiful terrace rice paddies revealing themselves by the morning light.
It’s a breathtaking panoramic scene of lush green terrace rice paddies cascading down steep hills with calming fog rolling over the valley. The bumpy ride of this journey is nothing compared to the spectacular scenery. This is heaven for anyone who seeks an escape from the hectic city life, and a paradise for photographers. More amazingly, the scenery changes with the season as the rice grows. If you visit the valley during July – August, the rice paddies would be blue as they reflect the clear blue sky by the water. During September – October, the lush green valley dances to the song of the wind, as the whole valley turns golden brown as the rice ripe.
Urbanization is still at a distance away from Baan Pah Bong Pieng village, so expect only a few homestays in Karen village. Sleeping under the stars, strolling through misty rice fields, savoring traditional feasts, and enjoying the slow life are the experiences you will get while you are up here. Agrotourism and ecotourism in a remote paradise are the best ways to wind down your busy lifestyle and to recharge!
Best season: The rainy season during September and October, where the rice paddies are at its greenest; producing a spectacular view.
The rice paddies are greenest and most spectacular during September through to October
– Baan Mae Klang Luang: Starting from Chiangmai city, drive about 50 km along highway 108 (Chiangmai – Hod) passing Hang Dong, San Par Tong, and Jomtong. Turn right onto highway 1009 and drive another 26 km. While driving up the Doi Inthanon Mountain look for the Baan Mae Klang Luang entrance on your left, and you are here.
– Par Bong Pieng: Starting from diving up the Doi Inthanon Mountain, then drive towards the Doi Inthanon National Park checkpoint and head towards Mae Jam direction. Drive for approximately 12 km. to reach the Mae Pan Waterfall’s entrance. Follow the sign pass Huay Sai Leung Waterfall and Mae Pan Waterfall until you reach the parking lot. From this point onwards you will require 4WD vehicle to reach the Baan Par Bong Pieng village on dirt road. Don’t worry if you don’t have a 4WD vehicle as you can rent one at Baan Mae Klang Luang village before you set out on your trip. 4WD rental, Tel. 08-1960-8856, 08-1760-5181
– Baan Mae Klang Luang: Stop by the Baan Mae Klang Luang Agro-Tourism Center for homestay information. Baan Mae Klang Luang Agro-Tourism Center, Baan Luang, Jomtong, Chiangmai, Tel. 08-9952-0983 (Oon) or 08-1960-8856, 08-1760-5181 (Somsak)
– Par Bong Pieng: Magipoh Homestay, Tel. 08-1020-1691 / Weerasak’s house, Tel. 09-3074-2686 / Tongdee’s house, Tel. 08-0847-8863 / Wat and But Homestay, Tel. 08-0794-6883, 08-5713-1891