Monday 1 October 2012

Relaxing at Bamboo Nest de Chiang Rai

14th-23rd September

After waving off my parents back to Bangkok, we had a few more days in Chiang Mai waiting for our Indian visas to arrive. Having had enough excitement for one week, we spent the time relaxing and arranging the next leg on our journey: Chiang Rai.

With relaxation very much the order of the day, Karen found a great place 30km or so west of Chiang Rai called the Bamboo Nest (or Bamboo Nest de Chiang Rai to give it its full title). We arrived in Chiang Rai by bus at about 4pm and were picked up by the owner, Noi, in his small 4x4, squeezed in like sardines beside the incumbent Kiwi couple. We knew the place was up in the hills but weren't quite prepared for quite how steep the approach was. Lucky it wasn't raining!

When we finally arrived, shortly before sunset, we were not disappointed.

What a location!

What a view! That's our hut, by the way
The place has only been open a few months and is run by the incredibly hard-working Noi and his equally hard-working wife, Nok. There are five bamboo huts perched on the side of the hill and three more on the way. None of the huts have aircon or fans, in fact the only electricity is the solar powered lighting although you can recharge your gadgets during the day at reception. Temperature-wise, it’s not a problem because it’s quite cool at night in the hills. There is a hot shower which was most welcome but the sink had yet to be plumbed in. It's a work in progress!

At night you’re protected from the local wildlife by a mosquito net, but unfortunately our soap wasn't protected and got stolen twice by the local rat or mouse population – I'm not sure exactly what it was (or why they needed soap) because I never quite caught them at it, despite a 3am torch hunt one night!

The bedroom
The balcony
Catching up my blogging. I'm not hogging the hammock (sounds rude) - Karen can't use them because they make her seasick
As you can see from the photo above, we were sharing our environment with the local wildlife. Noi and Nok have a couple of dogs and a pile of cats and kittens. The big dog (called Khaao which is Thai for ‘white’) is the boss and defends the property. He also pees on your bed if you mistakenly lock him in your hut for the afternoon.

Naughty Khaao
His partner in crime (Nam Dtaan: Thai for ‘brown’) is just 6 months old and loves play fighting. Most of all he took great delight attacking the colony of kittens, biting their necks and and dragging them around by their ears. Strangely, they didn’t seem to mind too much. I think Brown is going to get his come-uppance once their claws start to come in…

Biting kittens is very tiring
As is being bitten by dogs
Nok and Noi run tours for guests that want to get out and about during the day but we decided to amuse ourselves, mostly playing cards, reading, catching up on blogging or just relaxing in the hammock with a glass of Johnnie Walker Red. We did go for a couple of walks (accompanied both times by Khaao – at least up to the edge of his territory), once to a waterfall, which we didn’t find, and once down the hill through the village as far as the main river. The climb back up was enough to make us feel like we weren’t being too lazy!

In the evenings, the guests would gather in the main reception area for dinner and chat (that's talking, not a French cat). The food was good and so was the company – there was a middle-aged Kiwi couple, an Aussie couple, a Northern Irish couple (who we are still bumping into in Luang Prabang!), a Thai couple, an Israeli family, a lone English girl and a Malaysian mother and daughter – quite a cosmopolitan crowd!

From the left: Petra the German Kiwi, Aussies Tim and Kim, and Karen
After dinner, we would navigate via torchlight back to our hut, only pausing on the clear evenings to look up at the stunning night sky – no light pollution here!

To be honest, we could have spent longer there, it was a perfect location and really cheap, but we were as relaxed as we could get and I had a pile of blogs to upload, so it was time to move on. We said goodbye to the dogs (the cats ignored us) and Nok gave us lift down the hill, back into Chiang Rai and to the bus station.

There was just time for one final, wistful look at the beautiful view.

View from the reception/dinner area
Next up: Chiang Khong, pub games with hammers and the slow boat to Luang Prabang.

Current location: Luang Prabang until tomorrow
Next stop: Vientiane


  1. Just for the record "I had a pile of blogs to upload" is the worst reason I've ever heard for leaving a place as amazing as that!