Sunday, January 27, 2013

Khao Yai, Cowboy Country

A typical Resort in Khao Yai
The only "cowboy" impression I got from Khao Yai was actually the girls who worked at Chok Chai farm. Until today, their tight protruding buns wrapped in shape hugging outfits remains within the static memory of my brain circuits. They have the perfect ass, denoted by the ability to place a coffee mug steady on their ass if they just bent down forward a little. Khao Yai is a popular destination in the winter months between late November to early January each year. In this highland just 2 hours driver north of Bangkok, large pastures of grasslands hidden between peaks of mountains are dotted with numerous resorts ranging from the simple the ultimate luxurious. We come here chasing winter as well. Resorts are nested within the area left of Mittraphap Road in Pak Chong as well as on the right, deep into the heartlands of Khao Yai. Theme parks a plenty, the notorious Palio known as Italy of Thailand just to name one. Horse riding, milking cows are some of the activities one could do in some of the attractions there. And of course there will be the ever popular sheep petting farms so many sprouting up in Thailand why I no understanding. For the more exciting, there are go-kart centers for one to skid around the course. Venturing deeper into the ranges, you could try engaging wild road crossing aggressive elephants which are known to perform free tensile strength testing of cars.

Palio, so Crowded
So there I was a week ago joining my girlfriend on her company trip. A resort we stayed, very pleasant indeed her name Hommuenlee. Before heading to the resort, we detoured over to Palio. It is located on Thanarat Road. On the complex junction along Mittraphap Road, turn out where the sign says Khao Yai and drive deep passing several resorts and restaurants. You won't miss it as the view of tour buses and slow traffic turning into the compound comes into view. 20 Baht for parking there and on a weekend, looking for a place to park on the vast gravel pit presented some waiting time. It was crowded, very crowded. I never knew Italy had such a huge Asian population. Many shops within, but most were left alone as people were only interested in taking pictures. Only places making business are the small food outlets and a number of coffee places offering limited seating. There's an MK restaurant there, but who in the right mind will go Khao Yai to eat MK? The place was like an overcrowded zoo except that the animals were not in cages, the animals were us humans. We were all over the place, holding the lamppost posing, climbing halfway up steps posing. Something like a scene from Rise of the Planet of the Apes plus lots of cameras. If you can, go on a weekday I would say.

Country Roads
On the next day after checking out the resort, we explored a little. Travelling back to where Palio was, the road lead deep into the mountains and will exit again on Mittraphap Road near Muak Leak towards the direction of Bangkok. Along the country roads, there were developments of all sorts. Condominiums offering that perfect weekend getaway against a backdrop of mountains. Could be a good stay during the cooler months and only those months. Sadly, urbanization had turned parts of the vicinity into dry and arid lands where some wind will blow up a dust storm. The air quality in that area is made worst by the nearby cement mills at Kaeng Khoil. The mountain backdrops were large facade of barren rocks. Amidst pastures of dotty scorched grasslands and occasional tall faraway trees, the white fences meandering alongside the road was however a pleasant sight. It was like we were transported into the country sides of another realm, some storybook pages of distance tales. There were eyesores along the way where large signboards in English told of land on sales, targeting we know who, the money laden farangs of the west.

Why? Why... ??
The Bloom Khao Yai, what is the purpose of this place? A large garden featuring a figurine of Snow White and the seven dwarfs, avenues of flowers and a small maze that if you want to abandon your old grandmother, you leave her there. She will succumb to dehydration in just an hour. It was hot, there were no shades. Yet another park put together by some business mind set to capitalize on the tourist who are already made spoilt for choice by the so many other "what is the purpose of this place" places. Nevertheless, since there is nothing much to do about, we ventured in like bees attracted to the lone gleaming flower in the middle of nowhere along with many others. Flowers of all colors and myriad varieties offered more picture posing opportunities. I think Zeus dropped his huge expensive orange Hermes handbag there after he concluded it looked gay on him. People crowd around this monument for pictures. I did mentioned obsession with sheep in the earlier part of this post and other blog entries, so naturally, here in The Bloom, there is a herd of sheep cordoned off in one area. Buy some grassy plants and we could go in to pet the black sheep. Take more pictures.

Khao Yai Winery
Wineries, there are some. This only meant more picture taking sessions. Khao Yai Winery, that's where we were. Part of the powerful Singha conglomerate whose beer already flowed through the bloodstreams of many here in Thailand (I prefer Leo). I was not there for the wine, but to quench my thirst down with their grape juice. At 180 Baht per large bottle, we gulp down the essence of Shiraz in a wooden setting noisy with foreign crowds lunching their steak and pizza baked from a brick oven. Beyond the shades, the rows of vineyards lined neatly in rows, at a distance the mountains in white haze.

Cold to very Hot
Khao Yai in winter months, a place for relaxation. Choose a nice private resort that offers amenities where possible. In the night the temperatures was a chilly 18 dropping to 14 in the morning when I went. Some whisky to bring warmth chatting among old friends would be ideal. In the day temperatures soared fast to over 30 but remains cool in the shades, an outdoor pool should pull you nicely through daytime. Sipping beer and reading a book soaking in the chlorinated waters would be a great past time if one do not want to venture around building one's modeling career posing with every lamppost and post office boxes. I still prefer the southern seas, or the real far north in winter where nature aplenty, not the man made gardens and the picture posing farms of Khao Yai. And with this trip I close my winter chapter, the short months of cool weather will be over. The searing summer is on her way, Thailand back to her sizzling tropical days.

Turning off to Khao Yai from Mittraphap 
The route to Muak Lek
Italy of Thailand, Palio
Sheep Obsession
Some Nonsense for Picture Taking, The Bloom
The Bloom
Khao Yai Winery
Smoke House
Country Roads

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