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Phu Shee Fah

A perfect picture postcard place is Poo Shee Fah, literally "the mountain pointing to the sky". Looking on a road map, Poo Shee Fah seems almost too remote to reach sitting as it does in the far east of Chiangrai province on the border between Thailand and Laos. A major part of the adventure of the mountain is just getting there. Chiang Khong is the most convenient town of any size to leave from, and the drive quickly takes one deep into the countryside. That unfamiliar fruit the hilltribes are harvesting are Loog Plup or persimmons. The arrow straight lines of the vegetable gardens on the slopes of the hills speak of hours of backbreaking toil. You'll be grateful for your cushy job in an air-conditioned office.

Driving is hard work in the hills. The pangs of thirst and hunger make a stop at a noodle stall for a pick-me-up a welcome necessity. And what noodles they are! The noodle soup served here is a whole world, an entire culture apart from that served in the Chiangmai corner shop just a few hours back down the road.

As the afternoon grows late and the sun slides towards the western horizon, it's time to spend the night at a row of modest bamboo huts located near the entrance to Poo Shee Fah.

The hut had an owng, the traditional Thai water jar for bathing, and a squat toilet. There was a coconut fibre mattress, pillows and quilts and a mosquito net. The coolness of the Poo Shee Fah Resort was a welcome change from the city's heat.

Be prepared for an early walk in the dark up the rocky trail. The last 800 meters of the trail takes over an hour to cover. The morning sun rises painting the view below in a constantly changing palette of colors. The mountain peaks were stunning as they poked enticingly through their veil of clouds only to disappear again. Of the two paths to the top of Poo Shee Fah, the most awesome approaches the final 50 meter high cliff with some staggering prospects of the valley below. And then, standing atop Poo Shee Fah, on the very pinnacle of rock pointing up to heaven, one is perched at 1,700 meters.

Sit on the black boulders and gaze down over the stunning drop into the void. There, right below is Lao, deep valleys and steep cliffs aswirl with the clouds and mist of morning. This part of Laos is sparsely inhabited and supplies are hard to come by. The inhabitants make an annual pilgrimage to Poo Shee Fah with pack mules, to barter or buy the dry goods that they could not obtain in their own remote countryside. If you love the fresh sweet air of the mountains and can reach the top without falling off the cliff, you will cherish a visit here.

Phayao Province

A visit to Phayao means sitting by the lake and, later, visiting the hillside monastery above the lake. Also, opposite the lake is The Thai Fisheries Dept aquarium. Nearly 30 aquariums have samples of fish native to northern Thailand. The Fisheries Department is attempting to breed the giant Mae Kong catfish, Pla Buk, in the lake.

In the Thai Fisheries compound, the late Prince Mother's former residence is open to viewing by the public. Throughout the interior are lovely photos of intimate family moments of the Princess Mother and her children at various ages.

On a recent Tuesday in Phayao, the colorful "Si Banyen" or passion pink was seen everywhere. It's the signature color of the province and citizens proudly wear the gorgeous pink each Tuesday

Even more color and sparkle is seen at Gems and Jewelry Industries Center (GJIC), under the Department of Industrial Promotion. The GJIC has been serving the province since 1999. It was officially opened in March 2000 by Her Majesty the Queen. This is a unique example of the Department of Industrial Promotion (DIP) promoting rural industrial development, job creation and the development of community economy.

The spacious facilities include the gems retail showroom and the province OTOP showroom featuring the top products of the province being Gems, Fabrics, and Food. Other buildings in the spacious GJIC compound are the training center, dormitories and dining hall. After an overnight in Phayao, one can easily return to home sweet home in Chiangmai.

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