My daily commute is about 54 steps – from the front door of our almost-100-year-old-Thai-village-teak-house to the front door of our commercial production space. But I’ve started a second commute! … to Mae Sariang, on the Yuam River in North Western Thailand along the Burmese border, for a couple of days of training, skill-sharing and project planning-direction each month. It’s usually about a 3.5 hour drive each way – but can be 4 or more if there are trucks on the single lane mountain road stretches, or if there are landslides, rain or trucks losing loads on the hairy corners. Or if the scenic coffee stop in Hot is required after a 5am start.
Our new herbal social enterprise with the Karen indigenous people along the Thai-Burma border needs a lot of skill-sharing. For people with little formal education who speak neither Thai nor English well, the project needs a personal touch and lots of practical demonstrations to create a solid basis for success.
The most common question people ask is “what’s the road like?”
Landslides and loose rock fall are common on the 116km single lane, steep mountain road between Hot and Mae Sariang. Can you do it on a motorbike? If you’re an experienced rider with a powerful bike, then sure. A little city scooter and no experience on loose dirt washed onto mountain roads? Probably not. We recommend a COFFEE BREAK before tackling this section of the trip!! Where do we stop? The PTT Petrol Station on the corner of the Mae Sariang road in Hot has a lovely Amazon coffee, with a pretty balcony over-looking the local countryside. Coffee is very good. Stroopwafels? Yes please!
When you buy your hand-made, organic product and exclaim that it isn’t as cheap as the chemical-laden, plastic packed product in the mini-mart or the tourist market, please appreciate that this is some of the hidden cost in product development. Time (LOTS of time!), driving, car costs, petrol, hotel costs and meals away from home. For not just months, but years. My goal is to develop and establish and secure the indigenous organic herbal supply chain so that in 3 years time I can locate our full production process to Mae Sariang, leaving only distribution in Chiang Mai. Cos living in a big tourist-filled city has never been in my game plan. A more natural, less busy, more productive life is being created.
Lots of amazing temples to see en route, so if you’ve never visited Northern Thailand before this trip definitely warrants a whole day.
The end of the road? Beautiful Mae Sariang.
Where do we choose to stay? Mae Sariang Riverhouse On the Yuan River. Delightfully chill with enough creature comforts, fresh local coffee, good wifi and access to a swimming pool. ‘Nuff said.
Planning to explore and enjoy Northern Thailand anytime soon? Definitely put Mae Sariang on your list. For me, for the next couple of years, it’s my new part-time office and a regular business commute.