Discover a travel secret in a land time forgot
I spent the day travelling around the city of Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand with a new friend Monica – Founder of Cheshire Parlour She had stumbled upon this place while searching for an off beaten path bungalow to stay in a few days. sounded like exactly what I was looking for, so I thought it would be a fun adventure to join in and see what this place was all about, and if she had in fact stumbled upon a true travel secret, or just another tourist packed venue.
We sat in anticipation for the unknown adventure that awaited us. Suddenly, we were greeted by a tiny woman with a smile which stretched ear to ear. She walked us to her 4×4 where we loaded our bags and prepared to set off on our journey. Moments into our departure, we made a stop and picked up a tiny man with a beautiful white dog almost his size. This was her husband, Noy, and their pup, Kow (which simply means “white” in Thai) who had just spent the day at the vet.
That’s when we saw the few scattered bamboo bungalows, each strategically placed to give an element of privacy to it’s lucky guests. This is where you completely disconnect. My phone had lost all reception. There was no power lines – no internet. Each bungalow had a small solar power to provide some light in the evening after the sun sets, and a propane water heater for hot showers. Otherwise, this place was off the grid. Welcome to Bamboo Nest.
We each found our way to our own private bungalow, and unpacked just enough to dig out our own sources of entertainment. I found an old copy of Herman Hesse’s “Journey to the East” which suited me perfectly well for the hammock I was about to unwind in overlooking the valley below my home for the next couple of nights. Later in the evening, I heard some laughter coming from main hut. Monica was socializing with Nok and Noy, and gathering some of their jungle based wisdom. A cute, friendly siamese cat joined us. His name was “Mew” and was “Kow”‘s best friend. When asked if they had any other pets, Noy simply replied “One Cat, One Dog, One Woman. That is all I need to be happy”. And so it was true. What more could they ask for living in this paradise, and welcoming guests to share in the raw beauty found therein.A locally caught fish prepared in a traditional fashion with spices stuffed inside and grilled was on the menu, along with some Saffron tea. Sticky rice and mango, all locally grown, was dessert. It may have been the best meal I had eaten since arriving in Thailand. Ask dusk fell, Noy lit a campfire on a platform over the valley’s edge. I lay beside it staring at the sea of stars above. This is bliss.
The next day, Monica and I decided to go for what was claimed to be a moderate hike to a near by waterfall, with Kow as our tour guide. Of course.. Kow knew the way, but when we made a wrong turn, he loyally followed us for the adventure. Moderate turned challenging and the day’s heat was upon us. We eventually found our way through the dense, unmarked jungle to a nearby village. This was where the tourists go. There was a large, well established guest house there, and the locals were immediately upon us with basket weaving courses and handicrafts. We politely snuck past and made our way to a breath taking waterfall… quickly realizing how fortunate we were to find such a place, still mostly undiscovered by the bus loads of tourists.
After heading back, it was time for a nap and another good meal. Another night by the campfire, with some more great jungle wisdom from Noy and I drifted off to sleep to the sounds of the nocturnal jungle creatures that lurked off in the distance.Going back to town was also dictated by Nok and Noy, as they had more guests to pick up, and of course, with an hour journey each way, I can understand why they would only want to make the trip once in a day. We said our farewells, and made our way back to the bustle of the busy city streets of the city, wishing only that our time had been extendable by a couple more days.
If you are looking for other remember to do your homework and make sure they are operating with sustainable practices. This is one of the best hidden secrets in Northern Thailand by far. I would encourage anyone to spend some time getting to know this lovely couple, and disconnecting from the world to reconnect with the planet.Have you found any travel secret spots which left you with a feeling of awe? Are there any places you’ve been which were just so wonderful you couldn’t believe they weren’t more well known? Share your stories in the comments below!