Delightful Northern Thailand 12 – Staying in the Doi Ang Khang Area
The Ang Khang Royal Agricultural Project west of Fang boasts by far the nicest flower garden we see in an area full of flower gardens. Poppies in all shades and myriads of other flowers have been arranged in a very casual way, almost like a summer meadow; delightful winding trails snake around the colorful show – so different from the monotonous flower battalions and straight cut paths you see in other places.
— THE ANG KHANG ROYAL AGRICULTURAL PROJECT —
Everything is in full blossom. The sky displays a freshly washed blue. Mesmerized we wander along winding paths through the multicolor performance – and that a lunchtime! It is not too hot!
I hear a deep American voice saying: "What a wonderful place to take your girl friend to."
And right he is. I tell Norah: "I would like to take some more pictures, just until the last of my three batteries fades. Ok?"
"Sure, I look at flowers a bit more" – and off she floats, admiring here and sniffing there.
The Royal Project, as it is mostly called, has lots of beds for all kinds of vegetables and fruit too, notably strawberries this time of year. But for the few Thai and Farang tourists there, the flowers are the real show. Quite remarkably, the poppies and wild flower meadows look much better than the rose garden and the bonsai section.
The restaurant at the Royal Project has a feel of a hill station and is called Clubhouse. You sit outside on multi-level terraces, overlooking a beautiful part of the garden. The food is good and of course super fresh from the project. They have a separate
coffee booth, which – if manned – produces enjoyable cappuccinos.
Sitting out there in the evening, you definitely need a sweater and a jacket. The inside of the Club House looks quite cosy with comfy chairs around a wood fire stove. But when we check the interior, an enthusing Thai tour group just starts a karaoke session there, so we opt for the frosty outdoor seating.
From the books I understand that this Royal Project intends to research high-altitude farming, but also wants to distract the locals from cultivating opium. I don't know if it brought any wealth to the area: If you leave the side gate of the Royal
Project near the Clubhouse, you'll see very poor Pang Ma village.
— THE ANGKHANG NATURE RESORT —
Hotels in the Doi Ang Khang area are either grotty or expensive. But these are the very last days for Norah and me, so I opt for the posh variety: The Amari Angkhang Nature Resort – with large rooms and another large flower garden too. The receptionist tells us right away that only rooms with two single beds are available, no double beds. But that's no problem, because bedroom re-layouting is our second-favorite pastime.
In a golf-cart we are driven around the widespread hill estate to choose a room. When we finally reappear at the reception, there is a new lady.
"Would you like a double bed or two single beds", she asks?
"Oh, a double bed please", I say surprised.
"But double bed no have. Only have two single beds."
The room price is listed as 3,700 Baht per night including breakfast. Hmpf. I approach the receptionist: "Sorry, we would like to stay two days or more. Maybe you have a discount for us?" She shuffles to the back office and brings back a reduction: 5000 for two nights.
Quite remarkably, they refuse to write a receipt for the cash I hand over. We stay another two nights for the same price; then I pay with credit card – at least the credit card slip is a proof that we have already paid.
After the discount on the room rate, Norah wants to negotiate the exaggerated rental prices for the decrepit hotel bicycles. The bikes are nice for commuting between hotel and Royal Project, so Norah asks the hotel to lower the price from 200 to 150 Baht per half-day. That talk is really unnecessary; I interrupt her and tell the service guy we take the things for the regular price. It is the one and only time I feel uncomfortable with Norah's words.
Only when we finally settle in our spacious room, we notice a thin wooden door connecting to the next room. Fortunately, that room never gets customers during our time in Ang Khang.
Our room is so upmarket that it even has a thermometer. In the mornings, it reports chilly 14 degrees Celsius – not outside on the private terrace, but inside the room,.
Our room is not upmarket enough to have heating or bathtub.
— THE KEY IN THE CAR —
It had to happen one day. I close the car door so that it is locked. The key is still inside. At 10 p.m. in the night, I've locked us out of our car. Fortunately, we just returned from dinner, the deadlock happens on the parking ground of the Angkhang Nature Resort.
I walk to reception to ask for help. This evening the reception is manned by a slim, tall Thai guy with long jet-black hair, long fingernails and very very effeminate manners. If he were a she, I'd say wow. "Sure, sir", my lovely receptionist chirps, "I call engineer for you." Now that is service.
Five minutes later a tiny Thai man appears and we walk back to the Suzuki. He rattles on the door, but that doesn't open it. From his Thai words we figure that he must call a friend and we will hear more the next morning. I go back to reception to report and from the feminine male receptionist I get a lackadaisical "Have sweet dreams, sir – ha – aha – ahahaha."
So we retreat to our spacious 2500-Baht-room, enjoy the night, appear for breakfast in the resort's very formal restaurant and forget completely about the key. While toasts and fish soup appear, another waiter in a well-ironed white shirt approaches: "Your car key, sir." The key is carefully placed on the white table cloth besides my tea cup; the rest of our pothole research in delightful northern Thailand can begin right after the next sip of tea.
— STRAWBERRIES FOREVER —
The widely available Ang Khang harvest calendar shows it: Jan to April is strawberry season. And we can't ignore it either: Very tasty strawberries are sold on every corner, and the restaurant in the Royal Project features a strawberry shake that's clearly based on real fruit and not on artificial flavor.
Our Angkhang Nature Resort is in tune with the season, too: The breakfast table has the hotel's own strawberry marmalade, and you can buy strawberry marmalade off the rack, too.
Angkhang's customers' convenience management desk even had another fruity idea: From the basket atop the minibar, between Alka Seltzer tablets and peanuts, the concerned customer picks up a box of strawberry condoms.
Delightful Northern Thailand:
– 1 With Norah and Vitara
– 2 Inthanon And Expensive Waterfalls
– 3 West and South of Inthanon
– 4 Dirt Ride
– 5 The Front Passenger
– 6 Two Nights In Finland
– 7 Driving On
– 8 Chiang Dao Nature Lovers
– 9 Mae Salong
– 10 Mae Sai, Myanmar, Mae Fah Luang
– 11 Books, Maps, Mae Fah Luang
– 12 Staying in the Doi Ang Khang Area
– 13 Touring the Doi Ang Khang Area (End)