Mae Hong Son – Views-o-Plenty

Mae Hong Son – Views-o-plenty

The picturesque lakeside wats (temples) of set against the backdrop of misty mountains give Mae Hong Son แม่ฮ่องสอน a ‘Northern-Thailand-as-done-by-Walt-Disney’ look. It appeared to be so quaint, that I wanted to see it for myself. I’d been wanting to go there for years, so for my 4-day weekend, I thought I’d go.

Mae Hong Son วัด Chong Kham

Mae Hong Son is a province and a town in the most northwestern part of Thailand that borders Burma (Myanmar). It is home to many hill tribes: Lisu, Lahu, Hmong, Yao, Karen (including the long neck Karen – the women who wear the rings around their necks), Shan people from Burma, and more. Twelve years ago people liked going to the town of Mae Hong Son to do treks. Now most people go to Pai. Mae Hong Son town kind of feels like the place that time forgot. The road from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son apparently has 1864 curves. It is a windy windy mountainous road that motorcyclists love. By bus it takes 8 hours to get there. By tiny prop plane it takes 35 minutes. I opted to spend the extra baht and fly, which offered fantastic views without the car sickness.

The way I got to Mae Hong Son

Without a doubt, the smallest plane (aircraft?) I’ve even been in.

{Side note, since when did planes become aircraft? Whenever they do the safety announcements on any US airline, they refer to the plane as ‘aircraft’. Why? It always makes me feel like I’m on some secret military mission or something. I’m not a fan. I will continue calling an airplane an ‘airplane’ or just ‘plane’, not ‘aircraft’. I’d call this one a prop. plane. Carry on.}

a view from the plane

Although it is the provincial capital, Mae Hong Son is a small town. I walked from the airport to the center of town, which took about 15 minutes. I’d read that accommodation was uninspiring due to the peak of its popularity being about 12 years ago, so I wasn’t expecting much. Where I stayed was clean, adequate, and close to the lake. Walking around the lake and visiting temples is how I spent the late afternoon. The reason we had a 4-day weekend was because of two Buddhist holidays. The first one called Asalaha Bucha Day is important because of three events occurring on the day called the “Triple Gem” – The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. It was after the enlightened Buddha  and gave his first sermon. I spent the afternoon merit making, making donations and offerings the local lakeside wat – วัด.  I dined at what appeared to be the most happening place in town – Sunflower. I ended up meeting some Thai guys and we enjoyed listening to the singer, who sounded a lot like Jim Croce – a name I’d all but forgotten until I heard the guy’s voice. I requested “I’ll Have to Say I Love You In a Song”. Unsurprisingly, to me at least, the guy knew it. Gotta love that sappy 70s music. I do, and so do Thai people.

Wat Chong Kham at night reflected on the lake

The Thai guys I met. I tried to speak Thai with them. Conversations were short.

The next morning was เข้าพรรษา Khao Pansaa, the beginning of Buddhist Lent. It is called the rains retreat and lasts 3 months. My goal is to meditate each day for these 3 months. I got up early and that is just what I did.

Although this place was closed…

…I did manage to find this.

From the lakeside I had a view of a wat up on the mountain. I wanted to walk up there and spend some time meditating there.












The walk in itself up to the hillside wat was divine.      

This one might be my favorite. I climbed these steep stairs too.

I eventually arrived at Phra That Doi Kong Mu วัดพระธาตุดอยกองมู.

temple upkeep

The day one was born in Thailand is significant, in a similar way that the month is important in Westen astrology. I was born on a Monday, the same as the Thai King. Its color is yellow and the Buddha for Monday is standing.

Here was my offering to the Monday Buddha

I meditated, or rather tried to meditate, and made merit.

I got here…

Incredible view from the coffee shop next to the wat

This is the last picture I could take, before my camera battery died.

Mae Hong Son was a lovely little town and I’d like to visit there again. แม่ฮ่องสอน สวย


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