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!
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.
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
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
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
Baan Anatta Resort, located right on the banks
of the Mae Tang River.
Trekking doesn’t come more “natural” than this.