From my perch on a bamboo step I look down on the valley before me. Bananas, bamboo, pampas grass and coffee trees thrive here on the mountain slopes. In the valley there are terraces for crops and a stream which glistens in the morning light. Lush green mountains dip in and out of the valley, row after row, fading into the mist and distance.
This exquisite view is mine from our room at the AKHA Mud House, Low Yo Village just outside of Mae Salong, on the road to Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand. A hotel built on the philosophy of using natural local building materials and recycling. Bamboo is not only used in the building itself but also the bowls and spoons for our morning’s rice porridge. Used bottles which once littered the jungle floor have been incorporated in the walls as decoration. Local clay is used for the walls, thus the name Mud House is born.
This hotel is the vision of the owner Yohun, who proudly shows us around. He takes us for a walk in the jungle and explains that the next step of his vision is for guests to plant a tree to mark their visit. He wants to repopulate the jungle with native trees, too much bamboo has taken over, he tells us. His hotel is a family concern with his sister and her children helping out, he is training the children to be local guides for his guests. But until the children are ready his dog Rambo is the more than willing guide for our explorations. Along with Rambo, Yohun has a talking Myna bird who we nicknamed RadioHead because he sounds like a tinny little transistor radio chatting away. “RadioHead” flies around free but loves coming and amusing the guests with his chatter.
I love a vision and I would like to come back in five years and see how Yohun’s has developed.
Tips for travelling to the Mud House
Previously we were staying in Tha Ton and to get to Mae Salong we needed to catch a songtaew (red truck) as no public buses come here. The red trucks don’t go from the regular public bus stop, (just over the bridge in Tha Ton), their station is further along the main road heading out of town, on the opposite side of the road. They are called red trucks but they are actually yellow in this part of Thailand, just to be confusing!
Yohun explained that we wanted to ask the driver to bring us up to Low Yo village rather than drop us at the road side as it is a kilometre walk up to the village and hotel. We paid 300 Baht (AUS $12) for this door to door service. To be dropped on the roadside and walk would have been 60 Baht (AUS $2.40) each. A worthwhile extravagance when you see the gradient of that slope, especially when you have suitcases in tow!
The Mud House is a 15 minute songtaew ride from Mae Salong, 40baht (AUS $1.60) each. Mae Salong is a lovely little township high in the mountains where tea is grown. We went there on a Sunday and there was a lively market underway. Great for souvenirs, tasting tea and other local produce. There are also lots of accommodation options in town, but we just loved the character of the Mud House.