August 03, 2006

chiangrai 2005 - 05 Phu Chi Fa prelude

around Oct 2004, came across photos like this & this, showing e rising sun illuminating a vast sea of clouds punctuated by dark islands of ghostly peaks & ridges. e big fat cliff appears tilted at an angle towards e sky, hence e name of e place - ภูชี้ฟ้า Phu1 Chi2 Fa2 lit. 'mountain point sky'.

e cliff belongs (disputed?) to Thailand, & Laos lies hidden beneath e clouds. nice place to catch e sunrise =) but just where e heck was this place that had fallen off e map & wasn't mentioned in any guidebook?

Googling just about every possible romanisation of e name - Phu with(out) e 'h' & single/double 'u' + Chi with single/double 'i' & 'e' + Fa with(out) e 'h' + all 3 with(out) spacings in between = many results in English with uselessly vague descriptions (mostly plagiarised from e same source) & many many Thai websites with equally uselessly vague descriptions. & then paydirt....a PDF full of maps of e Golden Triangle for Budget Rent-A-Car customers, (a Thai outdoor tour company), & Rai4 Phu1 Fa2 resort.

details could not be worked out in time to arrange a trip there after e 2004 Chiangrai expedition, & neither could company be found - most of e team members who were extending their stay were planning e usual shop-yourselves-silly-in-Bangkok post-expedition activities.

better luck came along in 2005 - YK, e expedition room mate turned traveling partner with loads of similar interests in nature & getting away from human pollution, & Khun J, e owner of Rai Phu Fa resort who finally responded to email enquiries in English....

food+accomodation+transport fell neatly into place after a highly amusing long distance phone call to Khun J, which involved switching from English ('five hundred baht') to a mix of Thai-accented English ('fai2 harn4 let2 bud3') & broken Thai =) she accepted our explanation that 'baeng2' Kaasiikorn (current incarnation of Thai Farmers' Bank) 'thii4 sing2 ka4 po1 mai4 mii1 saa2 kaa2' (has no branch in Singapore) & kindly waived e deposit required for our reservation, even though she didn't seem to remember our names.

Khun J seemed to recognise us by e simple fact that we were not-so-farang farangs from Singapore....'chan2 maa1 jak3 sing2 ka4 po1' was enough to trigger e 'ahh' of recognition =P PCF (as Phu Chi Fa came to be referred to) attracts almost 100% domestic tourists, save for e odd non-black-hair-brown-eyes sort of very-farang farang who roared by on motorbike while riding e Golden Triangle Loop.

& this is how YK & e cat came to buy e longest (literally) bus tickets of their lives....

[ filed under: thewanderingstraycat + chiangrai_2005 + thai1 ]

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