The Pa Pong Piang terraced rice fields (also spelt Pa Bong Piang or Pa Bong Pieng – ป่าบงเปียง), relatively close to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, are one of its best kept secrets. A relatively small area, hard to get to (see advice at the bottom of this article), it is mostly preserved from tourism.
Those in the know – essentially Thai – come here in the few rustic bamboo huts (no running water nor electricity), to enjoy the inspiringly serene scenery.
I had the chance to visit late in the season, at the very end of October, just as the harvest was about to start in the ripest fields (and I witnessed it – see a bit further in this article!)
Arriving in the last hours of the day, I enjoyed the softening light on the rice…
… as the gentle breeze created ripples and small waves on the terraces.
The night falls really quickly at these latitudes, and I almost got caught out, lost deep in the rice fields !
I managed to find the way back to my hut just in time, as the local people, worried that they had lost their foreign tourist, were about to organize a search party 😊
During my escapade in the rice fields, the owner of my hut kindly prepared dinner. While it was not the most gastronomic experience I had in Thailand, it was prepared with heart and I was grateful to have a hot meal, to share with my driver. In the pitch dark, as I snuggled under my blanket listening to the wind, I really felt in the middle of nowhere…
The next morning, as clouds still covered the valley below us, the sun created nice contrasts in the terraces and with the distant mountains.
The stalks, weighed down by their precious grains …
… were bathed in the warm morning light.
A few minutes later, a swarm of local villagers – mostly women – descended on the terraces and started chopping the rice, by hand.
Leaving little cross-shaped bunches behind them, they were moving remarkably quickly and efficiently through the field.
I realized how lucky I was, to have had the opportunity to see the rice crop at its peak of ripeness, and the start of the harvest.
After the rice dries a bit, it it put in bigger bunches and carried away.
My driver was eager to get back to the city, it was already time to head back, after this fascinating experience…
On the way, I asked to stop to visit a few interesting spots in the Doi Inthanon national park, like these colorful stupas, viewed from the far end of the parks’ Kew Mae Pan nature trail.
While not really crowded by any standards (especially at this time of year), Doi Inthanon, with its attractive natural scenery…
… is definitely more popular with local tourists.
The park’s waterfalls, like Mae Klang,
… and the Wachirathan waterfall, offer nice backdrops for special occasions.
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More to come, stay tuned!