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Mae Hong Son

peace in the valley

Before putting up the first Luang Prabang post, I neglected to mention Mae Hong Son, a sweet little town nestled in the Mai Pai valley, across the mountains from the nearby Burmese border, with a predominantly Shan and Karen population, and our first refuge after the hustle and bustle of the big city. The delightful Jong Kham lake, fronting the wat of the same name, helps this pearl of a place glitter as it should, and during the few days we spent in the town, I found the night time reflections of the illuminated wats Jong kham and Jong Klang unfailing delightful.

There are a lot of tourists in the place, many, though, coming in briefly to arrange a trek through the rugged local territory; you will see many hearty back packers around fueling this mainstay of the local economy. The humorous sign, below, pointed out to me by my traveling companion, Charlie, advertises a trek for those wanting a true, out-of-town, even beyond civilization experience. We opted for the luxuries of the quite prosperous village, staying in the commendable Baiyoke Chalet and choosing to explore the town itself, and the nearby mountaintop Wat Phra Tat. Prosperity, here as everywhere, hides a dark underbelly; much of Mae Hong Son's economic boom, according to Lonely Planet, comes from providing "rice and consumer goods" to drug lords on the Burmese side of the border.

No sign of scary drug activity mars the city itself, however. It is clean, quiet, and welcoming, with good restaurants and no discernible negatives. The young might find it boring after a day or two, but I found myself thinking I could very comfortably spend a quiet week here even without taking much advantage of the offerings in the surrounding countryside. Like I said, sweet.

Karen woman at night market

Karen woman at night market

Wat Chong Kam at night.

Wat Chong Kam at night.

A woman selling her wares in the night market

A woman selling her wares in the night market

[desktop_PB213812_7x7.jpgBuddha of Wat Chong Kam

Buddha of Wat Chong Kam

The Stupa at Wat Phra That

The Stupa at Wat Phra That

View of Mai Pai valley from a pagoda at Wat Phra That

View of Mai Pai valley from a pagoda at Wat Phra That

A night shot of a building that caught my fancy

A night shot of a building that caught my fancy

Night reflections in Jong Kham lake

Night reflections in Jong Kham lake

Temple at Wat Chong Kam

Temple at Wat Chong Kam

Working Mae Hong Son

Working Mae Hong Son

Jong Kham lake

Jong Kham lake

Advertising for a good and awful trek

Advertising for a good and awful trek

Posted by aethelraed 10:19

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