Chiang Mai and us - that's a combination that works well. How do we remember that? Even in the rainy season, we love the northern Thai city. The sky can be so dull, we just feel well. One reason for this is the incredibly beautiful location of the "Rose of the North" - as Chiang Mai was legitimately baptized. Within a short time you leave the urban traffic behind and surrounded by lush green rice fields . Not surprisingly, there are countless opportunities for day trips to the Chiang Mai area.
And that's what we did during our last stay in Chiang Mai: a trip to the countryside. We picked tea , were sung by a supposed shaman , and once again noticed how much the original north of Thailand teaches us to slow down and mindfulness.
It does not take long for our mini-van to leave the main road and the car's honking slowly fades. Lined by palm trees, trees and shrubs, a narrow road leads north into the province of Mae Taeng. Curve after curve, elevation gain by altitude, deeper and deeper into the untouched nature of the north.
Our way ends at a parking lot - that of the Lisu Lodge. "Connecting local tribe villagers with travelers" is the creed and so at the Lisu Lodge peace and seclusion seeking guests are welcome. You spend the night in one of the four cottages and have an impressive view of the surrounding nature from early morning to evening. Unfortunately we did not stay overnight, but we were allowed to enjoy the distant view during lunch.
The employees are all from neighboring mountain villages. Since it is obvious that the guests are guided through one of the villages. People live in very simple conditions. For us something like that is exciting to see, however, we will never get rid of the feeling in such situations to wander through a museum. What is the best way to behave? How can we make beautiful photos without a bitter aftertaste? Before the jumble of questions has been resolved in our heads, we catch ourselves as a shaman asks us to sit down in his house.
"That's what a shaman looks like," Romeo thinks. " And that's the look of a wooden cup that has not seen any running water in its life," Kathi thinks. The shaman serves us home-made tea in self-carved wooden cups. We sip tea (alibimäßig, admitted) and listen to the song of the shaman. It's a bit bizarre to be sung in this dark room by a shaman in an indefinable key .
Actually we have finished with tea plantations. About a year ago we left Malaysia's Cameron Highlands quite disappointed behind us. We are all the more excited about the Thai counterpart: the Araksa tea plantation. Our guide, Charlie Chan, a always smiling, gray-haired Thai in his prime, somehow manages to get our group excited about tea right from the start.
Equipped with a bamboo basket , we are allowed to try ourselves on the tea patches . Only the best leaves wander into the basket. Because the very young tea leaves, explains Charlie, have the very best flavor and are not too bitter. But as many leaves as we pick - our basket just does not want to get fuller. Quite different with tea picker name: her fingers scurry through the tea plants at breathtaking speed. In no time, your bamboo basket will gain in weight, while ours will last only covered in the ground.
Afterwards it goes to the preserves: to the roasting of the tea leaves. If one may (and may) believe in Charlie's words, tar roasting is a science unto itself. Our wish to be able to pour hot water over the tea leaves we pick ourselves is unfortunately cut off: it takes 3 days for the picked leaves to become what we commonly call tea.
Of course, we still get a taste of the Araksa tea. And although Charlie has fueled our euphoria for tea during the last two hours, we are all thrilled with how pleasantly mild and fruity the green tea tastes. That we left the tea plantation with two pretty, silver canned tea , wondering at this point, probably no one. Oh, and we would like to revise our opinion again: Tea plantations are actually a great thing.
We also made a video of our trip to Thailand where Mae Taeng also appears. Enjoy!