My host family, who own and manage the five-story hotel named Chor Chang House, invited me to join them for an afternoon at the Huay Tung Tao Reservoir. (The family is the father, Kun Gon; the mother, Kun Thanacha; and their daughter, Kainui Sj.) Of course, I had no idea what they were talking about…I don’t speak Thai (dammit!) and I had never heard of this reservoir. I was honored to be invited.
We drove about 20 minutes out of the city and stopped on our way at Bar’Texas. Yes, a special place with horses, roosters, chickens, goats, lambs, and donkeys…all catering to our inner cowboy! Just as we ordered our traditional Thai food, a man on a motor cycle quietly drove out onto the massive front yard that separated us from the road. Suddenly, over a hundred kids, lambs, and goats chased after him, followed by a few roosters.
I realized what I thought was a front yard had once been a grassy pasture, but the animals had cleaned it of any green living plant. Now, it was simply packed soil, a light tan color, matching the animal coats.
Kun Gon and Kaiaui left the table with their cell phones to take pictures, just as a couple young men emerged with large buckets full of grain. The animals knew it was chow time. Surprisingly, the feeding was not at all frenzied. The animals ate eagerly, following the feed as it was thrown across the pasture, but were quiet, with little or no aggression.
Welcome to Thailand where even the animals are quiet and gentle.
Soon thereafter, we were on our way to the Huay Tung Tao Reservoir. Just as we passed through the entrance gates, we left the highway traffic behind and peace and tranquility filled the air. The still majestic river was like a mirror, softly reflecting the blue Doi Suthep mountains backdrop and thatched huts lining the shore.
Huay Tung Tao Reservoir was once a military zone. However, because of water scarcity in the area, His Majesty King Bhumibol had it transformed into a Reservoir. Now, it draws mostly locals and some tourists. It still seems to be a treasure, hidden from tourists.
Outdoor activities range from swimming, paddle boating, biking, parachute jumping, paintball, ATV, massage, shooting, and more. Or, like us, you can simple explore.
Stay overnight or longer by camping or a renting very special lodging. Choose a small single or double occupancy teepee-shaped straw tent at the ground level or, for up to four guests, rent a larger primitive, yet inviting cottage on stilts, with a private outdoor shower.
As for food, twenty restaurants provide outstanding food which is served in the sala (Thai for living room), a large raft-like structure with a thatched roof. A long line of sala, floating on the river but tied to the shore, provides privacy, as well as a romantic setting with views of the mountains, afternoon sun and evening sunsets.
We spent a few hours walking around the tall green rice fields, touring the lodging and the private showers, as well as spending a little time with an orphaned baby water buffalo that staff at the Reservoir had adopted.
A zenic afternoon, it was another opportunity to fall in love with this wonderful country, Chiang Mai, and my host family.
(This was my second trip to Chiang Mai. Click here for photos from my first visit.)