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Running away from Home

Nesting down for the night

THAILAND | Sunday, 31 January 2010 | Views [323]

The bus dropped me in exactly the right spot in Chiang Dao, but most of the guesthouses are located about six kilometers outside of town. I was at the turn off looking at signs that advertised my options: Chiang Dao Nest, Malee’s Nature Lovers Bungalows, and a few others. Chiang Dao Nest was the first one to answer their phone, and they did have one room available, but the transportation was mine to deal with. There was a motorcycle cab available for 60 THB, but I didn’t know if both me and my pack could fit on the back of his Honda. I have, however, seen one of these bikes fit four Thais as well as groceries for two days, so I was willing to give it a try. Normally I would have been annoyed that the accommodations are so far from town, but as we rode on, I could see the appeal in the form of Doi Chiang Dao, the 2195-meter peak that stands sentinel over the small town it shares a name with.

Chiang Dao Nest rests snugly up against the mountain. So close, in fact, that the trail that leads to the peak begins just a few meters from the gravel driveway. The bungalows here are at the top end of my price range (895 THB), but the place has gained such popularity that a traveler usually has to reserve way in advance. It was worth the extra Baht to see what all of the fuss was about. I was completely charmed by my room. It had a rustic, yet elegant feel to it and the furnishings looked as thought they had been thoughtfully purchased and placed instead of the hand-me-down quality, mismatched pieces that I have seen at other places. There was only a fan instead of air-con, but I could tell by the cool evening breeze and the thick comforter on the bed that the night would be more chill than warm.

As pleased I was with the bungalow, I knew that it was the food that brought travelers to Chiang Dao Nest. The owner trained in Europe and is reputed to be one of the best chefs in Thailand. When I checked in, I browsed the menu of seasonal items that was posted in the dining room. It was pricey, but I decided to splurge. The wait until dinner time was excruciating. I had a difficult time choosing between the mozzarella-stuffed chicken fillet wrapped in bacon and served on pasta with basil pesto, or the goat cheese and spinach souffle. I chose the chicken fillet and it was moist, flavorful and very rich. So rich, in fact, that I felt very wicked when I ordered chocolate cake for dessert. I savored every bite of it with very little guilt because I knew that in the morning I would have to hike the seven kilometers to town and visit an ATM to pay for this feast. Oh well, I thought, judging by what I saw on the way here, I’m sure I’ll enjoy that too.

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