Hello Mae Hong Son!
This is a tiny place with only 3 or 4 main roads and most of the action happening around the beautiful lake in the middle of town
. We grab a tuk-tuk and ask him to take us to Friend Hostel. We have no reservations but we have read about this place and it is super cheap. There is a reason for its cheapness though. It is fairly run down and the room consists of a matress and a fan. The toilet has a seat which has been broken in the past and been selotaped back together. There is only 3/4 of the lid surviving. We don't care though, we only need the room for one night and this is the type of accomodation we had been expecting to live in before the cheap off-season resorts of the south spoiled us with swimming pools and air-con. We go for a wander to check out the lake and the surrounding streets and are pleasently surprised. The area is quite lovely and the lake is delightful. There are 2 main temples by the lake and as the light fades they are lit up with lights which add to their attractiveness as the reflections sparkle in the lake. Walking a little further we stumble upon a night market. It is alive with people and noise. There are food stalls, games, clothes and a whole host of other sights to grab our attention. As we near the end of the market we see a small rollercoaster! That's right, a rollercoaster! It was just set up on the steet and was whizzing around! Okay, it wasn't a big rollercoaster, it was tiny and flat and you had to be a little kid, but still, it's a rollercoaster in the steet! And that's not all, after the rollercoaster there is a ferriswheel! This place is awesome.
Next day in Mae Hong Son we check out of the luxurious Friend Hostel and check into a really nice place on the lake front. It's called Piya and they have a large area of garden and a number of rabbits. They also have a dog with two adorable puppies, some big fishes, and a monster lizard living behind the mirror in our room. We hope he will keep the mosquitos away. He doesn't. We spend the day relaxing by the lake and doing nothing. It is a good day. Later we visit the night market again and buy a massive bag of chocolate for 20 baht (40p ish), it lasts for ever.
Often in Mae Hong Son the early morning mist will decend from the mountains and cover the lake, a sight we are eager to see. We wake just after sunrise on our last morning and rush out side to witness this wonderful spectacle. Unfortunately the mist has decided to stay in the mountains. Bugger. Oh well, the misty mountains are still an impressive sight so we take a few pics then set about visiting the Temples. One of which has a collection of ancient Burmese dolls, which are quite frankly, the stuff of nightmares. Anna Wears a lovely green towel around her shoulders as we scare ourselves in the temple (it is disrespectful to show your knees and shoulders in a holy place). She looks like a superhero.
All too soon it is time to pack up and head back to the bus station (we are catching a bus to Sappong). On the way we see a house that has 8 roofs. No, 9 roofs. No, 10 Roofs. Lets just say it has a lot of roofs, all on top of each other. It is the strangest roof Ian has ever seen and he becomes a bit obsessed with it. Look at the picture, maybe you will too.
We are back on the road again today. Chiang Mai has been better than we could ever have hoped for. It is a wonderful place and we have had some unforgettable experiences but the time has come to move on. We pack our bags, say our farewells to mad stella, and catch a tuk-tuk to the bus station. Today we are braving the mountain road to Mae Hong Son. It's a 6 hour bus ride though the mountains on some heart stopping roads. Once you accept that you are winding up and down mountains, with precious little room on the road and drivers who sometimes seem suicidal, then the views are nothing short of spectacular! The bus arrives in one piece and so do we. We are only slightly traumatised and there was a breif spell where Anna thought she was going to see her breakfast again.