– Finding Malee’s Bungalows – Lucky for me –
This trip was in early November 2013, immediately after returning from a visa run in Laos. I was in a rush and only did a little research on places to stay before I left for Chiang Dao. I had just returned to Chiang Mai a few hours earlier and wanted to head north right away. I remembered someone mentioning Malee’s on a review of Chiang Dao, so I wasn’t concerned after I found out Chiang Dao Nest was booked.
I arrived at Chiang Dao Nest and was quickly re-directed by the staff to Malee’s Bungalows, because there was a wedding party that weekend so they were all booked. It was also Bridge night that night a Wednesday night.
I noticed a large group of gray-haired farangs (foreigners) gathering near the dining area. They were most likely retired expatriates, living the life, far away in peace and serenity. I don’t blame them. I felt like I had just intruded on some secret society gathering in the jungle.
After, the Thai hostess, explained to me the situation, an older attractive silver-haired caucasian lady approached me with a slight air of superiority and asked me where I was from. I was a little on guard, at first, but she welcomed me to return and told me that the food was very good there.
I sometimes forget this is not Palm Beach, Florida and typically the foreigners here are friendly and social. That’s not to say Thailand does not have snobby foreigners, because it does, and many probably don’t want others to find their little secret paradise. Hmm?
Well, I got back on my motorbike and literally drove 50 yards around the corner to find Malee’s Bungalows entrance. First impression….deep breath….ahhhh!
Thailand never ceases to amaze me. It is after all, affectionately known as Amazing Thailand. I have found in many cities and tourist traps, you can usually have it as fancy or budget as you want here.
The difference in Southeast Asia is that budget does not necessarily mean a seedy motel or bland, mildew infested Holiday Inn.
Well, it could be a mildew infested bungalow, but again, that is not the case here.
I’ve noticed that throughout Thailand there is such a variety of bungalows, villas, hotels, or just plain huts. They are all so unique and each have their own style and character.
Obviously some have better service than others, but with TripAdvisor, Agoda, and other booking and review sites, you don’t have to waste your time wondering.
You can get feedback from other guests who have stayed there. What’s great is that although there are a few hotel chains, the independently owned guest houses, bungalows, etc. are really abundant, so there is always a variety to choose from, and you don’t have to settle for the same old hotel cookie cutter hotel room.
Malee’s Bungalows, is a beautiful little property with a very relaxed, make yourself at home vibe to it. Malee greeted me near the kitchen door, where it seems most of the transactions and social interactions occur. Whether you are ordering your dinner for that evening or plotting a trek through the jungle, you will most likely be doing that near the kitchen door at the back of the main entrance.
There is nothing wrong with that, its kind of like when you are at home, everyone kind of converges around the kitchen to chat and plan. In the beautiful outdoor dining area(covered) is where I typically had my breakfast and dinner for the 3 nights that I spent here.
My bungalow was simple, clean and cozy. I like to call it rustic. The rooms could use some updating and I did have some unwanted guests crawling in the ceiling late at night, but this is the country. If you’ve made it this far, then you probably can deal with a few country critters here and there. Haha!
Overall, I was comfortable and I slept very well, since, it was a lot cooler at night, I actually kept my windows open. Oh by the way, there was no a/c in this bungalow, just two fans. It was ok, I wasn’t in my room during the day that much, and at night, it was cool enough.
If you wanted to have dinner here, it was better to put your order in the afternoon, especially if there was something in particular you wanted made. I can’t remember everything I had to eat, but it was all good, all spicy authentic Thai cuisine! I was very pleased with it.
Sorry these next two pics are not so great, but they are significant to me. Some simple but pleasant memories of quiet country nights.
There are not many options out here close by at night, as far as I know, so plan for your dinner early. Most of the options in this area were at other resorts and Chiang Dao Nest next door offers western style food.
Most of your activities will be daytime outdoor activities, there are national parks, temples, and caves, nearby with hiking trails through dense mountain forests. I was able to complete a very short trek on my own, but I would not recommend doing it by yourself, like I did. There are even waterfalls and hot springs nearby that I just recently found out about so there is another good reason to return!
The temple is just within walking distance and it is very beautiful and serene. I spent a beautiful afternoon climbing up to this beautiful mountainside temple.
My personal experience and pushing the limits of my comfort zones
Malee’s husband, is very knowledgeable of all the hiking trails and showed me on a map near the kitchen door how to do the supposedly tame nature trail. The trail was about 4km and takes you up one side of the mountain and over to the other side where the entrance to the caves are. There is also another cool bat cave on this trail that is lesser known, but I could not find it, and by the time I think I was in the vicinity of it I just wanted to get out of the forest!
I was expecting a boardwalk with signs identifying the classifications of trees and fauna, but instead, I found myself ducking into a dark and sometimes very steep trail to the other side. Well, they said it was a nature trail!! There were a few cuts in the trail where I could have gone further out and all I remember was that I should stay to the left.
When I got to the other side, and I could finally see my path out of the forest, I came up to these old ruins that were pretty much on the backside of the popular caves, but not a part of the grounds for tourists to wander. The ruins had ivy and all sorts of botanical wildlife growing all over them.
For the first time I felt like freaking’ Indiana Jones, one of my favorite comic book characters. This was before I realized that where my trail ended was the same dead-end behind the restrooms, where I met the ladies from my cave trip the day before. (See Chiang Dao Caves post.)
Just when I thought I had discovered some new ruins! Hey! I don’t get out as much as some of the backpackers I’ve met.
Lately, I really have pushed the limits of my comfort zones.
- Dealing with the many types of insects and creatures, that normally would send me running, I am now taking pictures of them.
- I’ve confronted my claustrophobia and anxiety with dark spaces, by crawling in caves.
- I hiked a 4km forest trail on my own, it may not have been my wisest choice, and I was told it was easy. Easy if you go hiking every day.
I believe taking myself out of the monotonous office environment for a few months was the best thing I could have done for myself and my sanity.
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