My friend Cada recently had a 3 day break from school, just enough time for that quick trip to Mae Hong Son we’d be talking about for months. She arrived mid-morning on Saturday and the Tour de Mae Hong Son quickly commenced. We went to Alawaa Cafe for their rich Thai tea, to my favorite lunch spot for fried khao soi, wandered about town looking at coffee shops and handicrafts, to the night market near the airport for smoked eggplant dip, to the high season market around the lake for dinner with a view and shopping, and to Wats Jong Kham and Jong Klang to observe the Makha Bucha Day offerings.
Unfortunately my go to alawaa shop was closed for the holiday weekend and Cada left Mae Hong Son without trying this classic Shan dessert. However just before this trip we’d been talking about wanting to try a Thai dessert, bua loy naam king, and unexpectedly Mae Hong Son delivered. We enjoyed this tasty treat, sesame filled rice flour orbs in a SPICY ginger broth, each night from a sweet couple in front of the post office who also made a similar rice flour encased ball filled with mung bean paste and a touch of coconut milk that were then rolled in toasted sesame. Yum! This may be a seasonal treat because a friend visited Mae Hong Son the next week and the sesame goodness could not be located.
The next morning we hustled up the steps to Wat Doi Kong Mu, the temple that overlooks Mae Hong Son. The smoke from the burning of the forest and ag fields mixed with a little morning fog made for a much different view of the valley. Previously I’d only been to Mae Hong Son in the rainy or early dry season, during the hot season Mae Hong Son has some of the worst air quality in all of Thailand causing airport closures and respiratory problems.
Then it was off to the market for breakfast. After years of reading about this readily available dish, khao sen, I finally had it for breakfast. I’d been hesitant because of the tomato broth, I thought it’d be too acid for my stomach first thing in the morning, but I was wrong and it was delicious.
After second breakfast we headed south of Mae Hong Son to the Mae Sakut Nature Trail. We checked in at the park kiosk and after receiving some confusing directions and given the idea that we would be hiking about 4 km, we set off. Soon after leaving we were joined by this cute pup, who became our tour guide for the rest of the hike.
The forest was crawling with spiders. If you stopped and listened you’d hear them scattering across the dry leaves.
When we stopped at one of the waterfalls the pup took off into the underbrush and flushed up this owl in honor of my sisters birthday.
Shower orchid (Congea tomentosa)
Stage 5 clinger!!
This dog was obviously very familiar with this trail. In this section he laid down in the leaves pushing his legs straight out in front and back and rode the leaf pile down the steep trail.
Turns out the hike was closer to 8 km, good thing we had two breakfasts. Shower orchids frosting the treetops.
Our last morning we headed off to Pha Bong Hot Springs early aka while the air is still cooler than the water. Then it was another relaxing morning at the coffee shop with more delicious Thai tea and crepe cake followed by a last wander about town.
After Cada’s flight left I headed off to the OTOP festival. The festival showcases locally produced products like sesame, weaving, coffee and much more. I had bought a beautiful blue handwoven Karen dress at the night market a few nights earlier and had been disappointed to find, while trying it on in my room later, that it wouldn’t fit over my hips. When I spotted this hot pink woven Karen dress at the OTOP festival I was thrilled it fit. Luckily Cada gave me a great idea and I altered the blue one into a tunic.