Tuesday, 8 December 2009

My Dream Guesthouse


My Dream

Many years ago a Karen man from Chiang Mai province worked in a guesthouse in Chiang Rai. He lived with his wife in the small Karen village Khaew Waaw Dam a few kilometres out of town on the Mae Kok River. For the last ten years his dream has been a reality for tourists staying in his village. After a week at My Dream Guesthouse it is firmly in my top five guesthouses in Thailand.


Riverside bungalows

Anan and his wife Polly have worked hard to create a small place to stay that is more than just a collection of wooden bungalows by a river. For a start the bungalows are arranged around an immaculate forest garden, alive with birdsong and colourful dashes of passing butterflies. Each of his 13 teak and bamboo rooms is tastefully and simply decorated, each with a large bed encased within a mosquito net that hints at the opulence of a four-poster. He was determined to create the garden, despite others in the village questioning why he spent time on something that didn't earn money, so that visitors would get the most pleasure from their stay in rural northern Thailand. His ethos that shines through in lovingly tended flowering bushes and lawn brightens everything that is provided at the guesthouse and reflects his effusive, sunny disposition. He welcomes new guests with a smile and laughing conversation when he is not on a mountain leading one of the treks he offers to guests. You can do one, two or three day treks around tribal villages in the surrounding mountains.

Delicious large portions of Thai food are served in the riverside restaurant. If, like us, you have a baby evening meals are brought on a tray to your balcony. A fire is lit on the small private beach each evening from where you can sit and gaze at the milky way or find your way around by the light of the full moon. The view from the beach is of the surging river flowing by and the forest-and-bamboo-clad hills beyond. The beach and garden are perfect for hanging out with a family or just taking it easy after a trek.


My Dream beach

During our week staying at My Dream we met Didi, a French cycling tour leader, who was returning to My Dream for his fourth year in a row with 14 cyclists on a two-week mountain biking tour. He values the personal service that Anan provides. A rep from a Swiss tour company offering tours for two to three people stayed the night to check out the guesthouse for their next brochure. Some of the guests come with pre-arranged tours to use My Dream as a base before heading higher into the mountains for trekking. Many companies employ Anan to lead the treks for them. We also met a young Austrian who was passing through on his way from Tha Thon to Chiang Mai, partly travelling along the river itself. If you don't fancy a long trek but prefer to move beyond the garden there are plenty of easy activities to leave the guesthouse for, from visits to elephant camps and hot springs to hikes into the mountains, more of which in my Khaew Waaw Dam blog entry which I'll post soon.


Anan with his daugher Dia

Everything at the guesthouse has been thought about to make your stay memorable, to remember My Dream and to remember Anan who dreamt of having a forest guesthouse by the river. Live his dream and make it part of one of your own.


Garden view to the river

Getting there and costs
You can reach My Dream by land or water. It is on the long-tailed boat taxi service connecting Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Tha Ton. A one-way trip between My Dream and Chiang Rai costs about 120 baht per person and takes 1 1/2 hours down river to the town. Expect a little longer upstream. Polly's father runs the only taxi in Khaew Waaw Dam. He goes into Chiang Rai about 6.30am every day except Sunday. He will pick you up from your guesthouse in Chiang Rai on his return trip sometime between 11am and 1pm if you ring and arrange with Anan a day in advance. Depending on occupancy this will either cost the regular fare or be courtesy of My Dream. The journey takes about half an hour. You can also hitch pretty easily from the village down towards Chiang Rai so it is possible to make the return trip for free.

Garden-facing rooms and bungalows currently cost 300 baht per night, riverside bungalows 500 baht. Most meals cost between 40 and 50B. Meals on rice are 50B or 40B if you're vegetarian. There are two small shops in the village selling snacks, drinks and some fruit and veg. One pounds up a wicked som tam (papaya salad) for 15B.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds great. I'll be sure to pay a visit sometime. Did I just see Edale in your right hand menu.....?

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