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  1. #1
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    Off the tourist trail.

    My original thoughts were to do something on hill tribe villages we have visited but on hunting down photos I realized I had few and there is more of interest, to me, than just villages so. Off the tourist trail.

    I will say from the start that this is not my major interest and I have not taken nearly enough photos and am having trouble finding them. We have probably visited more than 50 national parks and protected areas and going through camera cards and finding something that fits with this topic I am having to look up diary entries to see where they were taken and even to look back to see where some of the places are.

    Kiri Wong, Nakhon Si Thammarat , part of Khao Luang NP.

    My first stop is a place I visited many moons ago not long after I came to Thailand (no camera then) I had heard of their unique (?) method of farming and was interested. Back then it was rarely visited but now I see they feature on tourist web sites and are on the tourist band wagon.

    Instead of the usual slash and burn they had for many years gone into the forest looking for any small clearing, only needed 2 or 3 meters, and planted fruit trees, mostly Durian with some Jackfruit, in these small clearings within the forest, not only did this preserve the forest but took advantage of the natural fertility.

    When I went there I followed a trail up the river bank into the forest where there was a narrow concrete strip just wide enough for a motorbike, this would prevent the track getting cut up and eroding when it rained.

    I followed this up to where 2 motorbikes each with a bin hung on either side were parked. I could hear some noise along a side track and went to look where I saw 2 men, one with a curved knife on a long pole and the other with a large sack. The one with the pole would cut a Durian from the tree and the one with the sack caught it and laid it gently aside.

    I watched for a while then carried on up looking along any side track I found, they all led to trees similar to the one the men were harvesting from. When I went down the motorbikes were gone, bins full I presumed.

    I thought and still think this is a great way to live in harmony with the forest and make a living from it at the same time.

    I will attempt to carry on with this most days as long as I can find photos to complement my words.

  2. #2
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    Looking forward to more. Thanks for taking the time.

  3. #3
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    Behind Klong Wang Chao National Park

    Klong Wong Chao is one of 2 parks that make up the northern extremity of the Western Forest Complex, I could find little information on this park so it was a matter of exploring.



    Camp ground is on a nice large stream, small river with the main camp ground and rental houses on the far side accessed by a swing footbridge. There were domestic water buffalo slopping around in the river a short way up the road.




    Following the road up from where we were camped it didn’t take long to run out of seal and on to the usual back country dirt roads. This one had twin concrete strips up the steeper bits, a two lane highway even, for motorbikes that is.




    Bridges were split logs which is normal and something we are used to although they may cause some trepidation among those who have never seen them before.




    We were to find that it is fairly easy country and still quite populated with several villages along the road, now comes the ’I don’t take enough photos bit’ for the only one I have is of a school that served several villages.





    Carrying on to the end of the road we came to an agriculture research station where they are growing alternate crops to demonstrate to the farmers what can be grown to increase their incomes.



    There is a camp ground which is the green bit in the middle of the photo with a toiled on the left
    and huts probably used mostly by visiting research students.

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  4. #4
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    Road 1285

    I will say from the start that I don’t recommend anyone having a go at this road as it is in a major drug smuggling area with poppies still grown in places. I met up with two gents carrying long barreled weapons and backpacks fortunately they didn’t see me as a threat to whatever they were doing.





    I found this road when I was researching a trip to the north-west and thought it looked like the sort of place we like to explore and besides there are a few birds that are restricted to this part of the country that might just be found there.





    It branches from road 1095 north of Mae Hong Son and goes up to the Burma border with only a few villages along the road and with quite a bit of forest along the upper part, it is good road and sealed all the way.

    We were interested on the way up the road to see how the rice farmers were growing alternate off season cash crops in terraced paddy, the this is peanuts, garlic and spring onions.





    We have since seen this in several other places, some where these are their main crops with rice only being grown for their own consumption.



    Close to the border is a flat area where there have been several buildings and shelters erected which appear to be some politicians idea of a border market a project from which they and their cronies probably managed to pocket a fair bit of loot. For a successful border market there needs to be a lot of traffic, trade or a large population center nearby this has none of these and has been all but abandoned to grazing cattle with only one warehouse in operation.




    Note the cattle in the photos they are completely different from the large scrawny floppy-eared beasts seen around the lower areas of the country, a lot smaller, better looking and better conditioned, probably be quite attractive to a Welshman or Ozzie.



    I have lost a complete month from one of my camera cards including photos of this area, fortunately the lady boss took some so we have some pictures.
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  5. #5
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    Mae Ngao National park
    This park is off road 105 which runs from Mae Sot to Mae Sariang close to the Burma border in the west. It is situated on a nice clear clean river the home of some decent sized fish and the park is quite populated with hill tribe villages. It is quite a long drive from anywhere with the winding nature of road 105 making for a slow trip so we arrived fairly late and after being told ‘no charge camp anywhere.’ we had set up camp with only time for a quick look round before dark.





    Next morning we set of to explore the roads, well tracks, that led up to various villages.



    The first was quite good without the need for 4WD and led us to a small village where a woman was weaving on a very basic loom.



    This got the interest of the lady boss, might be something to buy as in shopping. After being taken around various houses and exchanging some funds she arrived back with an armful of ‘pha’ woven cloth.




    Some of the houses are thatched with leaves.



    Others have Iron on the roof. In the center of that photo you can see racks where the dyed yarn is laid out to dry.



    Moving on we had a go at two other side tracks that should have led to other villages but both quickly got just to rough even for 4WD, don’t know how the people in those villages got out unless they had alternate access.



    At a junction along the main track we came upon a noodle shop which was marked down for a lunch stop on the way back. The junction led up the hill and along a series of bare ridges to a research station, we never quite got there as a couple of hundred meters short due to a slight operator error we got hung up on a large boulder that left us with one front and one back wheel off the ground.



    So it was walk the rest of the way to a very interesting place where they were growing mostly cooler climate vegetables and fruit, even had a small plot of kiwifruit. Another opportunity for shopping, the lost month on the camera card comes in here so unfortunately no photos.



    After carrying the bags of various things back to the car and a push from the staff it was back down to the noodle shop for a feed and conversation where the lady in the shop told us that in that area it was the girls who asked the boys to marry and the girls were the ones to pay a dowry, she thought this was great as she had three sons.
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  6. #6
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    Doi Sam Muen

    Doi Sam Muen is a watershed management area behind Huai Nam Dang National Park it is accessed by a 23km road through the national park. We didn’t know about it when we first went to Huai Nam Dang and after a couple of days looking around the national park camp area we decided to follow the road that led in to the interior and came to Doi Sam Muen.





    A village on the way up the road which has a power supply from 4 wind generators up on the hill to the right.



    We liked the look of the place and decided to shift camp, wasn’t till after we had set up camp that we discovered the camp ground was also the local school football ground. Fortunately we had set up camp to one side and the boys could still play around us.



    This area was set up many years ago to protect what was a steep eroding watershed the erosion from which was affecting farms farther down, like many similar areas it is a project of the late King and Royal family. The area was reforested and is now in mature forest needing little attention.



    The main upkeep is maintaining the headquarters area which is down the road from the camp ground where there are quite good looking rental houses and some lovely orchids grown.




    There is also a small museum mostly dedicated to his late Majesty which unfortunately has not been well maintained. A bird survey was also done with from memory 127 species recorded which for me makes it a place worth visiting.




    Farther down the road is the school which caters for children from surrounding villages some of these villages are a long way from the school over rough roads so the kids from these villages are taken to the school on Mondays where they stay, sleep are fed and watered and generally looked after by the school staff till after school on Fridays when they are taken back to their villages on motorbikes.

    Farther down the road is a junction with a noodle, food and conversation shop where the lady boss spent a fair bit of time while I went the other way back up the road to another junction that led to agriculture on quite easy land. Mostly corn grown as a cash crop with increasing plantings of coffee, I watched ladies working in a mature area of coffee before carrying on to where the road overlooked a village at the end.



    From there rather than backtracking we carried on to our next destination Chiang Dao which as you can see from the sign is 60km thataway.
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  7. #7
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    Great pics & stories, thanks for taking the time to share.

  8. #8
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    Mae Tho national Park





    This small park in accessed by road 1270 which branches off road 108 east of Mae Sariang, the last bit of the access to the park is quite rough something we have seen in other places. Possibly it is left this way to discourage vans and buses as these smaller parks are not really set up for tourists.



    View from Mae Tho campground.



    This one does get visitors mostly on weekends and holidays when the accommodation can be full, this is because the park has a strong royal connection with a special tree planted by the Late King and others planted by members of the Royal Family.



    Kings Tree.

    There is what they call The Log Cabin which has 6 bedrooms and some other houses for rent as well as a small camp ground.





    There is also a waterfall which is not easy to find and seems to get few visitors, After driving around over rough tracks I had to ask a local before I found the access foot track.


    Mae Ab Waterfall

    Glad I persisted for I saw and got some photos of a bird that is even harder to find than that waterfall.



    Black-backed forktail
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  9. #9
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    Tat Mok National Park

    This park is in Petchabun Province at the bottom end of the Nam Nao NP – Phu Khaio Wildlife Sanctuary forest complex and is steeper and does not have the large grass areas of the places farther north.



    Camp Ground Huai Bong.



    The camp ground and large youth area at Huai Bong is 12km in from the park entrance, on the way is a branch road called the Lan Chom Dao Nature Trail.



    This leads to a lookout area that gives a very good view of Petchabun it is also possible to camp there.



    Information sign.



    View.



    At the end of the road, another 9km, from Huai Bong is a waterfall that is accessed from a track called the Song Nang Nature Trail.



    There are toilets at the entrance to this nature trail and the road is sealed all the way although in places encroachment from the forest has narrowed it down to one lane.




    We have been there 3 times camping in a large Sala beside the camp ground we have been the only ones there on those 3 occasions. The last time we took the sister-in-law’s 2 girls there as part of a trip we had promised them in the school holidays. We had told them about the stream below the camp ground and they were keen to go swimming so after setting up camp I took them down to have a look at the swimming hole but it was already occupied by a Reticulated Python.




    All thoughts of swimming promptly disappeared but the next day after careful inspection they did slop around in a shallow place.

    We also took them up to the waterfall and they handled the rough track no problem even a ‘bridge’ over one of the stream crossings.





    There is quite a bit of wildlife around with squirrels quite easy to see, deer and wild pig sign around the youth camp area and the staff who are on at nights told of porcupines walking up the road, also enough birds to keep me happy.



    Grey-bellied Squirrel.




    There is power by solar panels and good looking rental houses, a nice place for a visit with plenty for a family to do and see.



    Yellow-rumped Flycatcher.


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  10. #10
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    Doi Phu Hom Pok National park

    This is a large national park north of Fang it stretches to the Burma border and has one tourist attraction, Fang Hot Springs.





    There is also a ring road right around that is well known to those interested in birds it was this that first attracted me to the park. It is not possible to access the full length of this road as it is blocked off by army bases at either end.
    Once there we were to find the is more to the park than those two areas and in the usual explore mode we headed up a rough road to Kiew Lom Camp Ground the highest in Thailand.





    This is access via a steep and slippery foot track to Thailands second highest mountain.





    After camping up there in somewhat blustery conditions we decided to explore a side road we had noticed signposted to ‘A frames camp ground’. This turned out to be a new very good concrete road but not without problems.





    Not to worry we have the technology in the form of a stout tow rope which we have used before. We were to find the A frames camp ground 6km along the road had been closed for some time but a farther 6km brought us to a loop road leading to a Royal Residence and ranger station, a very nice looking place so we decided to up sticks again and camp there.





    This proved to be a good choice for not only were there plenty of birds for me but the ranger stationed there was a keen cook and knew the forest herbs so him and her ladyship were soon scratching around in the undergrowth and coming back with handfuls of suspicious looking herbage.
    We were to learn there is a hill tribe village on the other side of the concrete road where we were told that 10 years back there were 40 families scratching a living from the steep hillside that was now down to 14 a natural attrition we have seen before.




    We were also to learn the concrete road went all the way back to the main road and gave much better access than the rough road we had gone up.
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  11. #11
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    Pang Sida National Park

    Pang Sida national Park in in the eastern section of the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai world heritage area and is mostly known for butterflies, there is said to be over 200 species recorded and they have a butterfly festival every year. There is also a small waterfall close to the entrance and it is here and in the butterfly areas where tourists are encouraged to stay.



    Taken out the car window.


    There is much more to the park including a lot of animal life with Elephant, Gaur and even Tiger along with smaller wildlife. There are also trails that are mostly out of bounds unless accompanied by a ranger.




    Havent seen a Tiger only where they have left footprints in the mud.


    There is a road that runs 25km through the park to a lookout where it is blocked off, on maps the road continues right through the park and it is actually there but should never be attempted on foot for there are not only wild animals but poachers and armed ranger patrols either of which could shoot you.



    View from the lookout



    There was a lot of Elephant sign on the road when I was there last as well as small animal droppings the ranger stationed at the camp ground called them wild dogs but I also picked up a porcupine quill and saw deer tracks.




    The place I have stayed on 2 occasions is Huai nam Yen Camp Ground 19km up the road from the HQ it has a good size camp ground with 3 toilets one basic but the other 2 are good and quite new. Power is by solar panel and the place has an ‘in the forest feel.



    On a tree in the camp ground.


    There are also 2 open sided buildings where tents can be erected, I have never seen anyone else camped there, it is one of the ‘no phone no food no pets’ places so anyone staying there needs to be self contained. I like the place and will be happy to stay there again on a return visit.

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