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Visit Mae Jaem & Doi Inthanon

 When looking around the Night Bazaar, Day Bazaar (Wararot Market) or window shopping for dress items and souvenirs, you will have noticed fabric lengths which form the wrap-around sarongs (Bha Zin in Thai) that many Thai ladies wear on best dressed occasions. The fabrics come in a range of various complementing colors and are distinguished by an intricate, geometric design at around knee level and a plain band of color, normally red, around the hem. Such sarongs are Dteen Jok design and are traditionally woven at the craft village of Mae Jaem. These beautiful sarongs are normally woven from cotton although silk is readily available for those requiring a more lustrous fabric. Indeed Dteen Jok patterned silk Bha Zin, highlighted with gold or silver thread, often makes the sarong of choice for ladies of means. Many ladies (and gentlemen too) like to visit Mae Jaem where they can see the Dteen Jok fabric being woven and to do so during festival days is an extra bonus as the ran ge of designs is superb.

 Any day during the cool season textile lovers would enjoy a combination of two destinations, Mae Jaem and Doi Inthanon in one Trip. If not the cool season, visitors can settle on festive or ordinary days. However, the Mae Jaem Dteen Jok Fabric Festival, runs from 7 until 9 February this year, can easily be combined with a visit to Doi Inthanon National Park (Thailands highest peak at 8,514 feet or 2,565 meters above sea level). If you are taking your own rental vehicle (rather than with an organized car or tour), follow the road south of Chiang Mai which runs from Airport Plaza to Hang Dong, Sanpatong, Chom Thong and Hod (See the map in this magazine). Before reaching the township of Chom Thong, there is a large, English language, sign directing visitors to Doi Inthanon (Route 1009). This well surfaced road will climb up through the National Park (eventually to the radar installation near the summit) but if you prefer to call in at the Dteen Jok Festival prior to visiting The Top of Thailand, then make a left turn, after passing the Park Headquarters at around the Kilometer 38 marker, and continue 22 kilometers on Route 1192 to Mae Jaem.

 The district town of Mae Jaem is snuggled into a valley, over one of Doi Inthanons many shoulders. The road winds picturesquely through wonderful scenery and pine-scented forests. As with any Thai festival, all the fun of the fair is on hand with parades, beauty contests, plenty of music, food-stalls and, of course, numerous exhibits of Dteen Jok fabric to see and buy. Mae Jaem is also a destination for white-water rafting especially between October and April. There are hot springs too 40 kms. away on Rte. 1088. Mae Jaem has at least seven ancient temples Wat Phratart Chang Kerng, Wat Gong Gaan, Wat Buddha En, Wat Yaang Luang, Wat Jiang, Wat Pa Daed, and Wat Gong Khaek. The last two temples have historic mural paintings that show daily life in the old days. There are Hot Springs too so visitors who can stay for awhile might like to enjoy these other options. Three guesthouses welcome visitors.

 Climbing back up the road from Mae Jaem to rejoin the main road to Doi Inthanons summit, take time to enjoy the spectacular scenery all around. The slopes of Doi Inthanon are home to many of His Majesty King Bhumibols Royal Projects that are worked by many of the 3,000 Hilltribe peoples who live permanently at this high altitude. Most people are from the Karen or Hmong tribes (there is a large Hmong village near the Park Headquarters at Baan Khun Glang). They are engaged in Royal projects ranging from trout farming to coffee growing. Waterfalls, streams, abundant bird life (over 380 species including eagles and hawks), nature trails, cool temperature flora and fauna (winter nighttime temperatures can fall to 5 Centigrade) all combine to makeup the natural beauty of Doi Inthanon (many visitors like to spend a few days/nights on the slopes and bungalow accommodation may be pre-booked at the Park Headquarters, phone 053-311608). Twin chedies (jedees), dedicated to Their Maje sties King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit, rise high on the left of the summit road. Once at the summit; well, on a clear day you can see the Top of Thailand Forever? The summit of Doi Inthanon National Park is wonderful for a full-day excursion from Chiang Mai or longer if you have time to really explore the slopes and is a recommended extension from the Dteen Jok Festival at Mae Jaem. Happy, careful and safe driving during a wonderful day out !!

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