THE LATE AFTERNOON, the Sukantara Cascade Resort sits in the subdued reflections of soft sunlight amid stately trees standing tall against the afternoon sky. The property has been lovingly cared for by a family who were lucky enough to find the site more than twenty years ago. It lies on the sloping bank of a tree lined, mountain stream in the verdant Chiangmai highland. The first building is a delightful cabin with wide a open-air veranda on the first floor. The seating area allows for either table and chairs or sitting Chiangmai style on a mat at the edge of the flowing stream.
It's a great vantage point to watch the spring water cascade over large boulders rounded by the flowing stream of ages goneby. The tiered waterfalls are nestled right below the Balinese-Lanna style guest cottages surrounded by breathtaking landscape. No need to rush anywhere. Sit and have a refreshing drink, breathe deep the highland air. (Don't be surprised when the air has a slight chill when the sun sets any day of the year.)
It will be hard to stay still for long when all the wonderful antique lanterns come into view. It is a collection that has been gathered over two decades of visits to villages in Chiangmai as well as second hand shops in Bangkok. Many times the shop owners had absolutely no clue as to what the dusty old item was.
The Balinese-Lanna style lodgings are beckoning to be seen. The interior is all warm wood imported from Brazil at a time when buying local wood would have been frightfully dear. There is a comfortable bed with net hanging over plus a seating area in a corner of the room. A bonus is the fold out sofa cushion that can be made into a spare bed for a child in the family. The mattress is thick and comfortable for an adult to sleep on. This piece was custom designed by the son in the family. The artistic design of the coffee table could be seen as a Thai alphabet, or with the curves it resembles an elephant sculpture. The bathroom is definitely Balinese and a session in the open air shower would be liberating. It would not be a struggle for a novelist to write an oddyssey in this peaceful place. The draw of each cottage is the lulling sound of the falling water of the cascades nearly within splashing distance.
On the property guests enjoy life to the fullest while hiking on mountain trails through the green jungle, or perhaps searching for the sight of wild orchids and exotic flowers. Guests can bicycle or walk to neighboring villages to see the village school and observe the life-style of the gentle people.
After some exercise it's time for a hearty meal. The cooks' specialty is the all time favorite Chiangmai dish, "gaeng hanglay". The delicious thick gravy flavored with ginger and chunks of meat is something to look forward to. The menu lists both Lanna and Bangkok cuisine such as "tohm sohm" or a fish soup with thick consomme flavored with Siamese ginger or "grachai".
At nightfall the entire outdoor area is dramatically lit to highlight the colorful haliconias, ferns, orchids and century-old trees known on sight by Thais for their literary significance. The night trek continues by crossing over the swinging bridge with rest stops along the way up the hill. The view from this side of the stream on to the resort is truly a sight to enjoy. The water swirls over the huge boulders and the lights show the green vegetation with the warm hues of the burnished wood of the cabins.
And then it's to bed after a refreshing shower. Sleep soon follows listening to the lullaby of the splashing water. Sounds too good to be true but it is true. Your stay will be an experience with nature and peace at Chiangmai's only wonderful cascade resort. It's the time to "Fulfill Your Life", as the slogan of the resort rings true.
Before the 40 minute drive to Mae Rim, make a booking for one of the six cottages to avoid disappointment at Sukantara Cascade Resort, mobile : 01-881-1444, or 01-881-6570.
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