My husband and I make travel a priority. Every year we plan/budget/and set aside time for at least one grand adventure. 

When there is a quite moment, I wake up in my own thoughts that have transported me back in time to a traveled place and I get to live it again and again and again.

Apart from my husband I have traveled to:
Egypt
Israel
Italy
Croatia
Greece

and together:
Spain
France
Morocco
Mexico
Guatemala
Belize
Thailand
Burma
Japan

My most treasured experiences and something that brings me such life energy, but the life energy always seems to come a couple weeks AFTER the trip. That is why I am just now compiling my thoughts and photos from this particular trip because holy cow, it wiped me out. We can always tell if we had an unforgettable adventure if we come back more exhausted than when we left. Boy was that true on this one.


Getting ready for our trips we usually don't have set in stone plans, more like general outlines. I research a ton on travel blogs and forums and we just move through the country as we please, usually asking locals where to sleep and where to eat and such. 

As I was reading the travel blog of an expat living in Mae Hong Son he mentioned a local man that he had become great friends with who used to be a tour guide in Chiang Mai but wanted to move back to Mae Hong Song to be closer to his 2 small girls and his wife. Mae Hong Song is a province that borders Burma and is about 4 hours north of Chiang Mai. Its the worlds best kept secret and is seriously stunning.

This travel blog gave the mans number with the recommendation to call if you are in the area and want someone to show you 'real Thailand'. And so I did call; when we landed in Bangkok I got on the phone with him and made plans to spend 4 days together. It was like spending 4 days with Buddha, I mean gosh, he was insightful and intentional! 

His name is Piak and he is the best darn "tour guide", friend, cook, porter, farmer, transporter, joke teller, Eric Clapton impersonator, etc, etc. 

He came to pick us up when we got to Chiang Mai and we road tripped the 4 hours north to a town called Mae Sariang, in the Mae Hong Son province. He invited us to dinner with his family that night to learn to cook his favorite meal. On the drive we stopped at a local street market to pick up everything needed for a traditional Thai green curry.
His home was his pride and joy and really makes you realize that "stuff" doesn't make you happy, "things" don't make you happy. He loved his family, he loved his country. His home had no walls, a bamboo roof, a hole in the ground for the toilet, a fire pit in the middle of the kitchen for a stove, and a hose running into the house for the dishes. As simple as you can possibly imagine. 

We feasted that night, very jet lagged, honestly some parts of that night I have trouble recalling due to zombie like sleep deprivation but we cooked and we enjoyed and we loved up on his two small girls. 

His father was a very well known man among all the tribes in the area and so he always gets invited to the special ceremonies and has great relationships with the tribes. 

The first day we were invited to a wedding ceremony among a very small Karan tribe of about 85. WOW! what an experience! this tribe has no electricity or refrigeration. they have one large community hut where they all cook together and eat. They kill a cow and for 3 days they eat the cow and on the 4th day they eat "meat salad", I had the privilege of helping in the kitchen so I saw that meat salad consists of live maggots and termites all ground into chili paste! Travis says it was pretty tasty.


We rested a little and then it was ceremony time. These people know how to party! Hours and hours of sitting in a circle, passing around a crazy substance that made my nose hair curl. We don't drink but wanted to be included in the ceremonies so Piak would pass me my orange juice instead. I became fast friends with one particular woman who clung to me, braided my hair, held my hand and gave me more kisses than I've ever had in my life!



After the Ceremonies we had some time to rest before we head out on our trek, so the women all gathered to teach me how to weave! Their weavings are so beautiful and intricate. One shirt takes an entire year to weave!

We started our trek through the jungle, to reach an incredible look out point and also to farm for our dinner!

These are Chayote fields, a vegetable in the cucumber family. mmm they are good eatin' and the flavor changes with the seasons.

We found a waterfall and the next thing I know Piak isn't wearing any clothes and is running towards it, so we both followed his lead.
We trekked to a local bathhouse where we would camp for the night. It was so crazy good!

And Trav found a tiny little friend.

The next day it was on to the Lawa Tribe, They are a bigger, more prosperous and developed tribe. A couple of tribesman are actually pretty wealthy. We harvested leaf, played with their pet monkey, cooked, hiked and ate so much good food.


We stayed with a blacksmith and a basket weaver.

Northern Thailand is rich with culture, community and smiling faces. It was an honor to spend time and share experiences with these beautiful people. You can't get more "real Thailand" than this! If anyone is interested in Piak's personal information I'd be happy to send it your way.


Next we head to Chiang Mai and on to the southern islands. Stay tuned for Part Two of our Thailand Travelogue!
 
 
 

    Lindy M. Dodge

    A lifestyle blog. 
    Design + DIY + Clean eats + Travel +Adventures in renovating our 1912 home

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