We had a long drive ahead of us, so we started with a breakfast of sour sausage fried rice and hot tea. We headed toward Chiang Mai and then swung South and West toward the border with Burma and Mae Hong Son province. Our first stop was at the Pa-Da Cotton Textile Museum, a showcase of natural production techniques for hand made cotton fabrics, including annato and other materials used in dying cotton thread, all grown on the premises. Naturally we lent our support in the gift shop.
We rolled into Mae Sariang, the first major town in Mae Hong Son province, and stopped for lunch at an unpretentious local restaurant on a main street. While Kasma ordered, we made ATM withdrawals: the shopping is expected to become more intense, so we all took out some extra bills. Our first course was slices of tender bitter melon with scrambled eggs; this was palatable with some extra seasoning, despite the bitter edge. A mild dish of sugar snap peas and small shiitake mushrooms in Thai oyster sauce followed, before we got to the hot stuff. Wild boar in red curry included thin slices of its tough, chewy hide; nice sauce, but domesticated pig is more enjoyable. A hot and sour soup with oyster mushrooms, deep fried strips of garlic pepper fish, and ground chicken with Thai basil filled out the menu. And we started in on a huge hand of apple bananas, said to have the opposite effect on digestion of the typical yellow bananas sold in the U.S.
At some point, we took a shopping break at a store featuring Karen (pronounced more like “gurieng”) fabrics fashioned into everything from place mats to clothes. I picked up a few items here, but they are rather loud, so might be worn only on special occasions.
Mae Hong Son
Our base for four days of exploration would be the Fern Resort just South of the provincial capital of Mae Hong Son. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the resort staff, and also by the house dogs including several very young puppies. We found our way to our rooms through the lushly landscaped grounds, and I was surprised to find three single beds; must be the kids’ quarters. I toted my laptop back to the lobby to use the free wireless connection, but it was painfully slow. We will probably have to go to town to keep in touch, but at least it’s an option. Despite being a remote corner of Thailand, Mae Hong Son has been growing in leaps and bounds to keep up with a steady stream of tourists, especially trekkers in need to inexpensive lodging.
For dinner, we ventured into town to the Fern Restaurant, where the resort owner started out. It was excellent.