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The true story of Doi Angkhang

The true story of Doi Angkhang

Preeyanoot Jittawong
Doi Angkhang is an attractive tourism destination, well worth the trip up to Fang from Chiang Mai, where tourists can leave behind the bustle and heat of the city and experience cooler weather, as well as having the opportunity to see various kinds of exotic flowers. In addition, there are several different hill tribes living on the mountain, including Black Lahu, Yunnan Chinese, Tai Tribe and Palaung; earning their living working on the Angkhang Royal Project.
Many years ago, the King and Queen visited Doi Angkhang and saw the hill tribes who lived there planting opium, but they were still poor and their farming methods destroyed forest and affected the water sources that are important for the ecology of the area.

Insectivorous plant collection.
The Royal Couple said, “Hill tribes are farming incorrectly and improperly, so if we help them to live permanently at this place and to farm properly, they will have a better livelihood and conserve the forest and soil that will be of further benefit to the country”. They spent their own money to purchase land at Doi Angkhang and set up the Royal Project there in 1969, appointing HSH Prince Bhisadej Rajani to be responsible for it under the Royal Project Foundation.
Jing Hamon, leader of the Palaung who emigrated from Burma in World War II to live in Naw Lae Village, near the Thai-Burmese border at Doi Angkhang, has stayed there for more than 20 years; and recalled that the Palaung people were forced to work very hard while living in Burma. They were used as slave labor during the war, so they decided to immigrate to Thailand, wishing to live under the graciousness of the Thai king. When they first settled here, they planted opium and it was very hard for them to earn a living because it was illegal, but later the Royal Project Foundation helped them to grow temperate plants and to sell directly to the Royal Project. Today they are growing such plants as strawberries, sweet lettuce and temperate fruits, and especially tea that brings them a good income. He said with some pride that the Royal Project had given them the opportunity to escape from drugs and have a better livelihood; and they would always remember that this was due to the graciousness of the King and Queen.

Rhododendrons. (photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)
There are many interesting things f or visitors to see and do in the Angkhang Royal Agriculture Center, especially during the winter season. Visitors can enjoy the cool weather whilst strolling among beautiful flowers planted in a huge plastic dome. Here you will find many kinds of flower, for example orchids, begonias, moss and ferns; and as well as viewing, some varieties are available for purchasing. The sales-point for the products of the Royal Project is in front of the dome, where one can pick up a basket and walk round the gardens choosing your purchases, much like a supermarket. Furthermore, there is a thriving bonsai garden at Doi Angkhang, containing dwarf temperate trees and shrubs, a conservatory of rare, exotic plants of tropical origin, mini bonsai (mume bonsai) and an insectivorous plant collection.
One more attractive point that visitors should not leave without seeing is the 80 Year Garden, so named to honor the age of president of the royal project, HSH Prince Bhisadej Rajani. This garden, laid out in the British style is the highlight of the Angkhang Royal Agriculture Center, displaying temperate plants e.g. cabbage, abutilon Chinese rose and real sakura from Japan. Plants in this garden are rotated all the time and it is still beautiful, even during the summer or hot season, because the weather at Doi Angkhang is always cool.

Entrance of Angkhang Royal Agriculture Center (photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)

Swiss chard. (photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)

Various types of flowers.

Flower seedlings for sale.

The Royal Project products.

Lavender.

Organic strawberry bed irrigated by using biologically treated water to prevent insects. (photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)

Jing Hamon, leader of the Palaung tribe (left).

Temperate flowers at the 80 Year Garden.