This morning I took a drive along Hwy 1285, an isolated road that twists 15km between mountain valleys to the village of Huay Phueng, not far from the Burmese border. It’s getting warmer in Mae Hong Son, but driving a motorcycle at 7am, in the shadows of the hills, it was so cold I quickly lost the feeling in my hands.
One sign of the approaching hot season, as the image above illustrates, is the changing colours of the leaves. Known locally as bai tong tueng, the huge leaves fall to the side of the road and are gathered and spliced together to be used as roofing. They’re also a serious fire hazard during this time of year, so you’ll also see people sweeping them into large piles to be burnt. Running over them on a motorcycle results in an extremely satisfying crunch.
The most scenic spot along Hwy 1285 is the tiny Shan village of Thung Masaan. The village is located on a slight cliff overlooking a stream and a perfectly flat mountain valley where people grow rice, garlic and soybeans:
At the far end of this field is the village temple:
and if you ask me, this simple house at the edge of the valley has one of the nicest views in Thailand: