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Hiding Away in the
Mae Sa Valley ...

Very recently I was feeling in need of a little escape so a couple of friends kindly invited me to join them on a visit to their "hideaway" in the Mae Sa Valley. I had no idea of the exact location so was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be the Mae Sa Valley Resort and Craft Village.

It was raining as we drove along not unusual in the rainy season but our driver knew a short cut which bypassed the main car park and took us directly to the main complex and restaurant. A large, gray buffalo wallowed in his mudhole and grunted hello at us as our unorthodox approach traversed a rice paddy. As we climbed higher and higher and eventually stopped at the side of the main building, the rain cleared but left a drift of mist and cloud scattered across the surrounding hills and valleys. I stepped from the car and ... it was absolutely gorgeous.

I took a deep breath; the air was clean and non polluted and the dampness held that fragrance of "freshness" which one just doesn't find in the city. A large avocado pear tree, heavy with fruit, grew beside the path and, from my vantage point, I could see the Resort climbing slightly higher but also falling away over the terraces and undulations of the hillside. My hosts (who had visited the Mae Sa Valley Resort and Craft Village many times) pointed out the Thai style rotunda where cookery classes are held and I can't think of any open air "school room" which would have a better view. A paved path dropped away to other rustic Thai buildings which housed the facilities for Sa Paper Making, Ceramic Painting, Batik Dyeing and Umbrella Painting. Country crafts in a beautiful country setting and, I understand, there is no shortage of holiday "students" who want to try their hand. There is a little bit of creativity in all of us and this wonderful setting will surely inspire us to our best efforts.

But I wanted to wander over the carefully maintained terraces, I wanted to explore, I wanted to see the Resort complex for myself especially the accommodation. Stepped paths drew me towards a little gazebo, which seemed to hint of shared secrets under a moonlit sky, and led further to a curvaceous shaped swimming pool which was brilliantly blue even on this overcast day.

Deck chairs were inviting and I lingered a few minutes really just to gaze at the view and admire the lush plantings all around. A short, shallow climb beyond the pool and I was at the first of the accommodation units I don't know what I should call it a house is too "ordinary", a hut it certainly isn't but perhaps "bungalow" would be nearest the mark, (In Fiji, it would be called a "bure" but we're not in Fiji!) Whatever, it is a cleverly designed "FUN" creation which is a "farmer's house" theme. A front terrace (with fabulous view) is festooned with wooden cowbells and a vintage plough makes up part of the handrail. The key to the front door is held by a gaily painted frog and brightly colored puppets drape the outer wall. Inside, the furnishings are a delight with many ceramic knickknacks and basket weave covering on the walls.

A buffalo yoke tops a mirror, the lamp is made from a rice basket and pounding mortar while a snow-white cloud of mosquito netting drapes each bed. The lofty, steeped ceiling is a whisper of clouds against a blue sky and the door to the bathroom is painted, native style, as a rice paddy. The fully appointed bathroom is a treat with a romp of happy, ceramic pigs on one wall and the wash hand basin is an old style ceramic bowl (which has been fully plumbed). The entire "farmer's house" is a cheerful, comfortable, fun frivolity which I thought marvelous.

Imagine my surprise when it was suggested I should compare the "farmer's home" with the nearby "fisherman home". It too is a delight with a cane hammock to one side of the terrace (one of my hosts couldn't resist a little relax!) and wicker fish traps dangle from the eaves. A 6 foot, hinged fish skeleton (sculpted from wood) decorates an outer wall while, inside, a blue "underwater" wall has schools of ceramic fish swimming merrily. Again beautifully appointed, the bedroom ceiling is plaited with rushes and the bathroom door is painted as a colorful lotus pond. A window letting natural light into the bathroom is actually an aquarium through which light filters in ever changing patterns. Choosing between the fisherman's home and the farmer's home was impossible; I was thrilled by both and would be extremely comfortable in either. In fact, the entire Mae Sa Valley Resort and Craft Village is a most rewarding experience.

So, next time you're in need of some escapism and searching for that perfect "hideaway", whether it be for a day, long weekend or a complete holiday, the Mae Sa Resort and Craft Village is your answer. There is a fine restaurant, swimming pool, lots of crafts to try, beautifully landscaped gardens and wonderful accommodation. A heavenly hideaway.

Mae Sa Valley Resort reservation office : 41 Sukumvit Soi 4 Bangkok 10110, Thailand. Tel: 0 2251-1704, 0 2656-9175-7, Fax : 0 2254-8865, 0 2251-1702 Email: maesa1@ksc.th.com. Activity Reservation office : PO. Box 5 Mae- Rim Chiangmai 50180, Thailand. Tel: 0 5329 0052Fax : 0 5329 0017 Email : maesa2@cm.ksc.co.th

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