Vol. VII No. 39 - Tuesday
September 23 - September 29, 2008



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FEATURES
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Baan Anatta – organic, eco-friendly, natural – all in beautiful surroundings

 

Baan Anatta – organic, eco-friendly, natural – all in beautiful surroundings

George Powell
The latest resort in our ongoing series, Baan Anatta, is located on the Mae Tang River about 50 km north of Chiang Mai. Due to the rainy season’s unusual “rainy-ness,” we arranged for the resort to pick our group of five, (I was the only farang), up from the city. The journey takes almost 2 hours, the last 9 kms, more track than road, taking up most of the time. The views over the paddy fields, however, are well worth the slow pace, and gave us time to admire the scenery!

What a beautiful setting in which to wake up...
When we arrived at the resort, we found it was on the bank of the Mae Tang River itself. Crossing the footbridge, we noticed several traditional wooden buildings which are home to locals and resort staff. The resort itself is only 7 months old, and still being improved, (if that were possible), with a new bar area being built. 8 bedrooms are available, 2 with one bed and 6 with 2 beds – king-sized and able to accommodate 4 people if required. All of the bedrooms have large glass veranda doors which look out onto the river – a great way to wake up in the morning! The resort is eco friendly, using, for example, solar cells to save electricity when possible, and a wireless internet connection is available for those who can’t bear to be away from their computers! Joe, our guide, explained over a welcoming snack that the resort’s ethos is to employ local people and teach them how to farm, thus, hopefully, persuading them to stay in the locality. The resort grows its own rice, coffee and vegetables as part of a Royal project.

The Chiang Mai contingent, very wet and very happy during their first experience of white-water rafting.
After we’d settled in, it was off into the hills, involving another 20 minutes drive, this time upwards, arriving in a glade surrounded by forest. This is where the resort grows many of their vegetables – they also keep wild boar. As an extension to the resort itself, there are three cabins, where guests can stay if they really want to ‘go native’. A walk back down the hillside, following a stream winding through natural, almost unspoilt, woodland forest, was a delight, even though we had to walk through the stream several times! Note – wear shorts next time! Next note – the cold water was wonderfully refreshing! Finally, after trekking for 30 minutes, we arrived at a waterfall which crashes 50 feet down into a natural lagoon. Joe explained that guests staying over at the resort often trek in the morning and have lunch at the waterfall – it seems a perfect place, totally private, totally natural. After 10 minutes’ further trekking, we came out at the Mae Tang River. Somehow two bamboo rafts had been left there – more explanations from Joe told us that hill tribe people from further up the river delivered them.
Bamboo rafting, another new experience, travelling down the river, through unspoilt forest, no electric cables, houses, nothing – just nature as nature intended. One can imagine people travelling this way for generations and seeing exactly what were seeing. I was told by friends prior to the trip that many of the other camps arrange bamboo rafting along the river that is built up with bridges, houses, electric pylons etc – not this one.
After 40 minutes, we arrived back at the resort, just as it was starting to rain. A quick shower and change of clothes was followed by Joe presenting us with a passion fruit, (locally grown), and tequila cocktail – amazing! We then delved into a lunch of roast chicken, pork ribs and sweet and sour fish, served with plenty of vegetables and rice. Everything we ate was ‘home-grown’ and it certainly tasted like it! We were told that staff can arrange for a BBQ or sit down dinner for 12 – looking around us it definitely is a great place for a party. During lunch, Joe told us that the resort is supporting the local village school, Muang Kead School, which has around 40 students, mostly Karen and Lisu.
After lunch we joined another group of young tourists to go white water rafting, which none of us had experienced before. The route begins at the resort, making yet another plus for the location. Six rubber dinghies, each with their own captain, were waiting fur us, as was instruction in basic safety and rafting skills and how to row as a team. Reassuringly, safety arrangements such as life guards at difficult points down the stream were also explained, and, after fitting safety jackets, we were off.
It would take too many words to describe the experience – enough to say it was exhilarating, refreshing, scary, amazing and, most of all, sanook mak mak. One guy fell in, but luckily was able to hang onto the rope on the side and was lifted back onto the raft after a thorough soaking! We passed through three difficult sets of rapids safely; the journey took 45 minutes and truly is not to be missed. Between now and November is the best time to go – when the river is high and is at its most dangerous— or so it seems. Afterwards, we all wished we could go back to the resort and stay the night, sadly, all had work to do – so it was back to Chiang Mai, tired and happy. The only question I asked myself was – why on earth had I waited 6 years to do this?
Other activities, including elephant rides, are also available. Prices vary and can be found on www.rivertang.com. When asked what was the most popular combination of activities, Joe described the 2 night stay with one full day activity including trekking, bamboo rafting, white water rafting and 4 meals for 3500 baht, minimum 2 people with an 500 baht single room supplement. Sounds great to all of us!
If anyone knows of a resort with a difference, please let us know at aroundtown @chiangmai-mail.com.

Baan Anatta Resort, located right on the banks of the Mae Tang River.

Trekking doesn’t come more “natural” than this.

 


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