The Tree House Hideaway
Chiang Dao, Thailand
After a few nights in Chiang Mai, our guide, Alex, picked us up in a minibus and sped north where we were spending a night in a tree house in a small village in the Chiang Dao Mountains. Alex and his wife, Oppy, run Orientxplorer.com – a travel services outfit that focuses on booking unique tours throughout Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand; Tours that essentially get the traveler off the conventional tourist route to really explore the culture.
After an hour on the road, our minibus dropped us on the side of (highway) where the seven of us transferred into the bed of a small old Toyota pickup. The narrow road up into the mountains started out relatively flat through tea and coffee fields before climbing up into the thick jungle. About 45 minutes later, we arrived at the tiny village of Mae Mae – the massive bamboo three house overlooking the small huts scattered on the mountainside throughout the small river valley. The tree house had two levels with essentially 3 bedrooms, 4 small bathrooms (with running water), and the kitchen/dining area upstairs in a ‘U’ shape overlooking part of the lower-level consisting of a large open deck with tables and chairs to hang out on, a steam room, and a small fire pit.
After a quick lunch, we headed out with a local guide on a trek to two different waterfalls out in the jungle. I do a lot of hiking during the summers, but this “intermediate” trek was actually kind of tough. Once we got passed the village’s school, we got onto a slippery, wet trail that at times had us going up some real steep slopes, ducking and weaving between fallen trees, and criss-crossing the small river, which at one point, we were walking right up the middle of. The first waterfall was maybe a 15ft slide with a nice little swimming hole at the base. We spent about 20 minutes swimming and taking pictures before venturing up even a steeper, wetter, and less defined trail for another 15 minutes to another 10ft waterfall; This one with a small little cave you could get into behind the falls.
When we got back to the school. the sun had already began to sink behind the high hills as light smoke was hanging over the village from cooking fires – once and a while the slight scent of dinner spices would waft by – We really slowed the pace, meandering through the village. It was the lead-in to was a relaxing and peaceful night – A excellent traditional ‘family dinner’ using only local foods, some people got a group Thai massage, while some of us just sat around and chatted over some local tea and Changs,