My first time on a motorbike
and the simple beauty of strawberry fields
Day two with the motorbike, Dain and I set our for another rainy mountain drive. By the way, it's not supposed to be raining at all this time of year. The mild temperatures and low humidity of December and January attract record numbers of tourists, but the rain up here and flooding down south echo a monsoon season that's reluctant to say it's annual goodbye. That's okay, because we don't let anything spoil our fun.
Mon Chaem is an old hill tribe agricultural village at the top of a mountain about an hour northwest of the city. It boasts gorgeous hillside strawberry and flower gardens against a mountain backdrop that (spoiler) it was too misty for us to see.
On the ride up, once we passed a bevvy of zip line, elephant riding, and other touristy places, we started to understand the real reason why this place was so magical. Hundreds of small strawberry and orchid farms laid out in neat patchwork rode the waves of the rolling hills. Campsites and bamboo huts rested cautiously on the hillside, hammocks suspended in the green mountain air.
At the top, we parked the bike and walked up a bit with a school of tourists until we saw an expansive, lush garden at the top of the mountain. There were rows of corn, kale, strawberries, tons of different flowers, and many other plants I can't recognize growing in tidy, manicured lines. In other parts, palm-sized ivies exploded out of the window panes of old cars left on the property long ago. Around the outskirts of the garden sat less tidy rows of stalls and vendors selling that same roasted corn or bushel of berries, among other tchotchkies.
On the other side of the garden lay a sprawling strawberry field so steep that you could hardly tell how far down it went. You can pay to enter but I was disappointed to hear the fee didn't include all-you-can-pick berries!
All-in-all, I'd say don't visit Mon Chaem for the destination. Enjoy the tangled mountain road lifting you to ever-expansive heights, stop along the road at some of the equally beautiful smaller strawberry farms for a snack, and appreciate the spectacular views that seem to get more and more explosive no matter which way you're travelling. Chiang Mai is truly a spectacular province and the Mon Chaem trip is a fantastic way to enjoy it, rain or shine.