We started the afternoon at Biscotti cafe, a blog entry HERE, for a coffee and then having nothing else planned we decided to go for a drive in the hills of Mae Rim as had been recommended by a friend. Rather than take the 1096 the main road through Mae Rim, which leads to many of the major tourist destinations and is busy, we turned off to the right at the first opportunity onto a smaller and quiet road, the 4043, heading into the hills.

My first photo stop was to look at this house being built. As we will be starting our own build later this year I am always interested to look at other places to see how they are being done. This is a fairly typical Thai build. Concrete slab and pillars supporting a metal roof truss structure. This house has concrete tiles but steel/aluminium sheeting also seen a lot here. This place actually had silver foil insulation under the tiles, which is usual. Insulation is a bit of a mystery and certainly not widely used over here.

A pretty typical new Thai house construction.

A pretty typical new Thai house construction although this house has a very high ceilings and a steep roofline.

An almost cathedral height to the ceiling and roof of this house.

An almost cathedral height to the ceiling and roof of this house.

The external and internal walls are being built out of these funny thin red bricks. They are cheap, which is why they are used I guess, but cheap for a reason – there’s nothing to them. R rating zero and I can’t imagine they would be very strong. They would rely on the render to hold the whole structure together!

Internal walls.

This photo was taken at a different house but the same bricks being used for internal walls.

Leaving the house and just down the road we came across this rather worn sign, which had a mixed Aussie/African feel to it. Why? Who knows. I must get someone to bring me out a roo warning sign for the village in Isaan. I should have got one when I was over. Gaz/Saskia are you reading?

A roo warning! Now buffalo I could understand.

A roo  and rhino warning! Now buffalo I could understand.

With house building on my mind I then stopped at this lovely entranceway to what I thought was a private house. I love this type of large door entry to a garden, which invites you in. This one had a concrete surround and wooden doors but many are the full timber structure sometimes taken from older buildings and can look pretty stunning. The stepping stones behind are set in water. At the largest stone just before the statue you turn right into the resort itself. I thinking of ways I can incorporate this sort of idea into our house/garden.

The entrance to Baan Canna country resort.

The entrance to Baan Canna country resort.

A Thai lady saw me taking the photo and invited us inside. It ended up being a small resort really hidden away in the wilds of Chiang Mai. The Trip Advisor entry can be found HERE. In usual Thai way the people were friendly, pleased to see someone to talk to I think and happy for us to have a look around. Not cheap by Thai standards at 2,800 THB a night but as that’s less than A$100 not too shabby. At this time of the year you would have the place to yourself. Need transport though as it is well off the main route.

The pool with views over the rice paddies.

The pool with views over the rice paddies. The hills of Mae Rim in the background.

Looking from the dining area to the cottages.

Looking from the outside seating area to the cottages.

Leaving the resort behind we headed into the hills of Mae Rim passing this Buddhist temple on the way.

I always have a laugh at the varied and creative ways temples decorate their grounds. This one didn't have any zebras, Donald Duck's or giraffes so a bit ho hum.

I always have a laugh at the varied and creative ways temples decorate their grounds. This one didn’t have any zebras, Donald Duck’s or giraffes so a bit ho hum.

The nice things about a drive off the tourist trail is that you get to see the “real” Thailand. These are mostly people going about a life that doesn’t have farang as it’s central element. The road isn’t cluttered with too much signage, elephant tours, four wheel drive buggy places and other offerings to extract money from the passing traffic.

Proper rural land use and peaceful views.

Proper rural land use and peaceful views. Corn being grown here. The little village on higher ground but flowing into the crops on the right.

Another

Another more traditional Thai rural view.

Not kangaroos and slower moving so less of a traffic hazard.

Not kangaroos and slower moving so less of a traffic hazard.

Having been all righteous about the non-tourist path we were taking we then came across this place:

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A bicycle covered in sea shells gives you a taste of this oddity, which was unfortunately closed. I felt that a beer here would be an experience.

A collectors paradise.

A collectors paradise.

And there's more.......

And wait there’s more…….

Further into the hills brought us to more varied and non-typical Thai crops:

Grapes being grown here although a modest harvest.

Grapes being grown here although a modest harvest. You can buy grapes at the local markets in season, but I haven’t tried them yet. There is even a Thai wine industry.

Here we are coming into hill-tribe villages, which are mostly wooden construction and pretty basic. However school is out like everywhere and kids are heading home.

Home-time. What's to eat mum?

Home-time. What’s to eat mum? We are getting a Thai wave from the bloke at the back.

The same photo enlarged.

The same photo enlarged.

Overlooking one of the many Royal Projects. Farming cooperatives supported by the Royal family to give hill people alternatives to opium originally or just  improve income.

Overlooking one of the many Royal Projects.  These are farming cooperatives supported by the Royal family to give hill people alternatives to opium originally or just improve income. Dry season here so not as lush as it will be in a couple of months.

Heading back home.

Heading back home into greener pastures.

These trees are flowering everywhere in Chiang Mai.

These trees are flowering everywhere in Chiang Mai.

This is more natural "bush" you'll see mainly in the areas not suitable for crops.

This is more natural “bush” you’ll see mainly in the areas not suitable for crops.

Now that's what I call a gate. A large walled property running alongside the road.

Now that’s what I call a gate. A large walled property running alongside the road.

The wall softened by this creeper.

The wall softened by this creeper. Rather lush.

Coming out of the hills and driving back home we passed these rice fields with yellow flowering trees in the background. This is the other predominant colour on show this time of year – around Thai New Year.

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Chiang Mai can support two rice crops a year unlike Isaan, which only plants one. The rice is close to harvesting time here. No doubt we will see the machines or local labour in the fields soon.

The same view from a  different angle.

The same view from a different angle.

So an interesting afternoon out of the big city. I do love taking drives like this as it gets one back in touch with the countryside and land, which like Canberra, is never far from the developed side of Thailand.

We will be doing this drive again later this month with some friends, if they are willing, and extending it to a circular trip spending more time in the hills. I have been given a tip for a good local Thai restaurant about halfway round, which we will try out. From previous experience I would expect to get a lunch sized main course and a soft drink for around $1.50 at these local places.

It’s aspects like this plus the fact we are swimming every other day rather than looking at the snow on Canberra hills in Autumn, that make Thailand an attractive home.

Thanks for reading.