We are travelling back in time to late October and our now not so recent couple of days in Chiang Rai. The first day can be found HERE and today’s post covers a wonderful second day before we hit Highway 118 again for the return trip to Chiang Mai.

The plan for the day was to head further North and share a couple of our favourite places with my step daughter Peng. First stop was Baan Dam or Dum – The Black House just outside Chiang Rai on Highway 1. It can be a hard place to find because the signage is both woeful and only in Thai. Getting there is one of those planned events because you’d never even know it existed from the main road. If you are going to visit The Black House using your own transport go to the bottom of this post where I have given you detailed directions.

Having found the place – hopefully, this is what you will get for your efforts. The Black House has been the work of Thai artist Thawan Duchanee who died this September aged 74. You can read about him HERE thanks to the Bangkok Post.

Entrance.

The entrance and largest building in the complex……

….and now home to the ashes of Thawan Duchanee. You have seen it here first.

A "shrine" being built in the main hall. We were told that Thawan Duchanee's ashes would be placed at the top.

A “shrine” being built in the main hall. We were told that Thawan Duchanee’s ashes would be placed at the top.

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The hall had been rearranged to allow this work to happen.

Inside this main hall. plenty of weird photo opportunities.

Inside this main hall. plenty of weird photo opportunities. Peng and the crocodile.

Bone furniture.

Bone furniture.

That's quite an ex-snake.

That’s quite an ex-snake skin.

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There are many exhibit buildings scattered throughout a well maintained garden. Some you can enter and others not.

Toilet with a difference.

Toilet with a difference.

Banquet for the dead?

Banquet for the dead?

I won't be including any of this style of furniture in our new house in Isaan.

I won’t be including any of this style of furniture in our new house in Isaan.

I was stopped by a couple of girls, happens all the time!, and they had a list of questions to ask to help them practice English. It must be the time of year for this because I had the same thing happen in Chiang Mai when I was visiting a wat in the centre of town. Photos were taken to prove that they had actually spoken to a farang. I got one of my own in return.

The students of English.

Students of English farang hunting.

A few snaps taken from around the property.

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Hard to work out the significance of this exhibit.

Hard to work out the significance of this exhibit. Nice seashells!

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Gaun and Peng.

Gaun and Peng.

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The final photo.

Full circle. Back to the main hall again for the final photo.

I hope the photos have inspired you to make a visit if in the area and now you know how to find it there’s no excuse to miss out 🙂 It does get busy so maybe plan on arriving early.

If at the end of your exploration you feel like some refreshments this is a decent cafe next door to the museum on the left as you look at the main hall:

A more recent addition. Doi Chaang cafe.

A more recent addition. Doi Chaang cafe.

One of the essential food groups - ice cream.

One of the essential food groups – ice cream.

A proper barista who produced a decent coffee.

A proper barista who produced a decent coffee.

Our next stop was to be the beautiful gardens of Mae Fah Luang at the Royal palace of Doi Tung. Coming out of the Black House turn left on highway 1 and follow it for maybe 20 minutes until you see this sign to the left.

Easy to spot.

Easy to spot.

Correctly located.

Correctly located.

The road starts on the flat passing by tobacco fields before heading into the hills twisting its way through forest with glimpses on the right over the plain leading to Mae Sai and the Golden Triangle area.

Doesn't look like a killer plant does it.

Doesn’t look like a killer plant does it.

The cool season October/November to January/February is a great time to visit as the flowers are at their best. Driving on the road to Doi Tung you will pass several plant nurseries with rows of glorious colours.

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Having a stunning garden in Thailand is easy if that’s your thing.

The Mae Fah Luang garden is described by Doitung.org, their informative website HERE, as follows – my photos:

The Garden is located on land that was originally the Akha village of Pa Kluay. This village used to be an important route for opium caravans and those involved in heroin-related trafficking and weapons. Situated in a deep gorge where the Akha lived in a dense settlement without the possibility of expansion, there was little space for hygiene, trash or wastewater management. At the request of the Doi Tung Development Project, the villagers agreed to be relocated to a new site 500 meters away. This site sits on a hill with expansive land. It has running water, electricity, and a paved road into the village.

Overlooking the hills.

Overlooking the hills towards Myanmar from Doi Tung.

Back in their former settlement, a garden of temperate flowers was built over 10 acres of land in accordance with the Princess Mother’s wish, to give Thai people who have never travelled overseas an opportunity to enjoy a temperate flower garden.

In the middle of this garden stands “Continuity”, a sculpture by the late Misiem Yip-In-Soi. The Princess Mother gave this name to the sculpture to draw attention to the fact that continuity ensures the success of any endeavour.

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The decorative flowers in Mae Fah Luang Garden are grown and nurtured by local villagers. The Garden brings substantial income to the area, directly as job opportunities for the locals, and indirectly as a tourist destination.

We came here with visitors mid-year and the gardens were nothing special at that time and some of the exhibits were closed for renovations. These were now open and the gardens are now looking magnificent.

The pond

The pond in true Thai brown. The area at the back was closed last time we were here.

The development of this part of the garden has obviously been designed for the Thais love of taking a vast number of photos in front of flowers. The occasional farang was not immune from recording the moment with one or two holiday snaps either! I mentioned this in the previous post on Chiang Rai but will repeat it here for newcomers. This was Peng’s, my step-daughter, first expedition outside her home in a small North Eastern village. Therefore the photos are more “family” orientated than my normal posts as a result of capturing her time here in detail.

Peng in the new display area.

Peng in the new display area.

Drowning in flowers.

Drowning in flowers.

Peng and friend.

Peng and friend.

Beautifully done.

Beautifully done.

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It's hard not to get into enjoying the photo opportunities here.

It’s hard not to get into enjoying the photo opportunities here.

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Mum and daughter.

Hard to resist these colours.

Hard to resist these colours.

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A whole area of these little orchids.

A whole area of these little orchids.

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The central basin shaped part of the garden overlooked by the palace at the back was looking pretty good too.

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The statue in the middle of the central garden area.

The statue in the middle of the central garden area.

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Once again bulk colours providing a spectacular scene.

I don't know where Peng gets it from.

I don’t know where Peng gets it from.

I have attached a gallery of some of the photos I took, which include some new ones if you are a garden lover. Otherwise move on 🙂

If you want to pick up a memento of the day at Doi Tung you will find a good variety of hill tribe touristy stuff just up from the parking area. Worth a browse if that’s your thing.

The markets.

The markets.

If you are in the Chiang Rai area the make sure you include this day out in your schedule. The palace is worth a visit too. It’s a pretty fancy log cabin set in the hills of Thailand.

This will be my last report from this part of Thailand for a while as we focus on the house build in the North East and spend time settling in and then exploring this part of the country.

Directions to find the Black House

Past the University turn-off on the left. Look for the red roofed place on the right and turn left as per my photos.

Keep on Highway 1 past the University turn-off on the left. Traffic lights here. Look for the red roofed place on the right and turn left as per my photos. Google Maps helpfully shows the brewery in English but not this major tourist destination! Only has it in Thai. Boon Rawd is actually a Singha beer brewery if you are interested.

The turn to the left off the main road.

The turn to the left off the main road.

The street you are turning into.

The street you are turning into. We are pointing the wrong way – heading back onto Highway 1 after the visit.

The signage!

The signage!

The best pointer I can give you is to look for this place, which is on the opposite side of the road just before the turn to the left.

Keep an eye out for that roof.

Keep an eye out for that roof.

In true form Trip Advisor’s map has it incorrectly located directly on Highway 1, which it isn’t, on the wrong side of the road and a few km past its location! It is a wonderful and moment indeed when a Trip Advisor map actually shows the correct location for your planned destination.

A waste of time.

A waste of time. I don’t know what this place is but it’s certainly not The Black House.

Thanks for reading.