Particularly among middle-aged people from the English-speaking world, there seems to be a longstanding fascination with Provence, the southern French région. I’m sure Provence is very lovely, and fits many folks' preconceived notion of a beautiful, rural paradise (although I think eventually I would grow weary of the scent of lavender), but when I recently found myself with a great deal of writing work and a desire to complete it in an idyllic setting, southern France didn't even come to mind. Naturally, I chose Mae Hong Son. It was an easy choice, really. Mae Hong Son is beautiful:
The hills surrounding Mae Hong Son -- a three-minute bike ride from my house
has its own interesting cuisine:
At Mae Hong Son's evening market
and brilliant weather:
A typical misty Mae Hong Son Morning -- the view over my backyard
And so far it’s actually lived up to its status as my own personal Provence. I start each day with a chilly early-morning drive through a mountain valley to the morning market where I down a bowl of thua oon or khanom jeen nam ngiaw. If I’m thinking of cooking later that day, I may do a bit of shopping at the market (the only 'supermarkets' in Mae Hong Son sell dry goods), but regardless will almost always buy several banana-leaf packets of Thai Yai sweets from my favourite vendor. I don’t have Internet at the house I’m renting, so I’ll spend some mornings online at Coffee Morning, followed by lunch at Mae Sri Bua or Baan Phleng. By the time I drive back home, the heat of the sun has cleared the mist and I can see the blue sky and mountains that surround the town. The rest of my days are spent working in a covered patio adjacent to the rice fields shown above.
Honestly, I can’t imagine anywhere else in the world I’d rather be right now. I’ll be here until the end of February (maybe longer?), and will be blogging about all of the above, and more. So bear with me if I tend to gush about Mae Hong Son, but I’m really loving it and feel that there’s some interesting stuff here worth sharing.