Video: Wild Sunflower fields at Doi Mae U-Kho

The wild sunflowers of Doi Mae U-Kho in Northern Thailand (Mae Hong Son province) bloom during November and early December, painting the entire mountain of Doi Mae U-kho in gold. The flowers are also known as Bua tong in Thai or Golden lotus and are actually Mexican sunflowers.

The area that the sunflowers cover is more than 1,000 rai (400 Acres). The Bua Tong Forest Park is located on the mountain of Doi Mae U-Kho, 1,600 meters above sea level. Imagine entire mountain sides and valleys in bright colors of yellow, blue, green and occasionally pink. It is a divine sight.

In November you are almost guaranteed stunning blue skies and pleasant temperatures for your drive. You won’t have the sunflower fields to yourself as they’re just too beautiful to keep people away, but it’s hard to blame anyone for wanting to experience such a surreal and beautiful setting. You’ll find that most of the tourists at the sunflower fields are Thai since most guidebooks doesn’t mention this spectacular sight.

Along the way as you get closer to Khun Yuam, you’ll see the farmers bringing in the rice harvest and threshing by hand, and increasing quantities of naturally blooming sunflowers bursting from the road side.

Getting there

From Mae Hong Son, take 108 highway South to Khun Yuam, before turning off and following the signs for the last 30 KM to the sunflowers. You should allow 2-3 hours from Mae Hong Son to Khun Yuam, and about 45 minutes from the turn-off to get to Doi Mae U-Kho.

From Chiang Mai, the fastest route is highway 108 via Mae Sariang where you turn North towards Mae Hong Son. You should allow about 5 hours from Chiang Mai to Khun Yuam by car, and longer by motorbike. We’d recommend staying the night in Khun Yuam (as we did) and viewing the sunflowers at sunset and early morning.

Video: Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand

This video shows the amazing Doi Inthanon National Park and the spectacular views from the summit. Enjoy.

Thomas wrote a brilliant article about Doi Inthanon National Park & Mountain after we visited the place with my family and you can read it here.

Video: Donate your hair for charity: Locks of Love

Donating your hair for charity is not only supporting a great cause, it is also a way to make sure that nothing is wasted in life and that in every act you do you are mindful. I donated 30 cm (14 inches) of my hair to charity today -for children’s wigs and in the video below you can see the event and get instruction how to donate.

One of the charities you can donate your hair to is “Locks of Love”. It is a well-established nonprofit organization dedicated to gathering donated hair for children’s wigs. The charity makes wigs for financially disadvantaged children across the U.S. who suffer from long-term medical hair loss. These children receive custom-made and fitted wigs made from donated human hair for free or on a sliding scale based on need.

Donated hair must be at least 10 inches long, clean, dry, and bundled into a ponytail or braid. Colored or permed hair is acceptable if it’s not chemically damaged. Most of the wig requests come from girls, and they want long hair. That’s why there is a minimum length. Hair as long as 14 to 16 inches is ideal. Short-haired boy’s wigs are made from shorter lengths separated from longer ponytails/braids.

“Wigs for Kids” is another nonprofit group that accepts donated hair. This organization also gives wigs to children affected by medical hair loss. Their hair donation guidelines are slightly different: hair must be 12 inches long and must not be permed or color-treated in any way.

While chemotherapy is the best-known reason for children’s hair loss, it does not cause a permanent loss of hair. After the treatment is over, hair almost always grows back within three to six months. In contrast, alopecia areata, an autoimmune skin disease, can cause patchy or complete hair loss that lasts for years. The cause of the disease is unknown, and it currently has no cure.

According to “Locks of Love” most of the children they help have alopecia areata, and the wigs are a great boost to the children’s self esteem.

Whether you have hair or money to donate, those in need will appreciate your hair and your generosity.

You can send your donated hair to:
2925 10th Avenue N
Suite 102
Lake Worth, FL 33461-3099

– My haircut was done by Khun Noi at “Your Hair” in Chiang Mai. It is located on 106/4 Sirimangkalajarn Rd, Chiang Mai 50200. Phone: +66 (0)89-5599586

Video: Samoeng loop motorbike trip, Chiang Mai

The Golden Triangle Rider website describes the Samoeng / Mae Sa valley loop as “…the best 100 kms ride in North Thailand“. We have done the loop several times now, and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to get out of Chiang Mai and see some of the surrounding countryside and mountains for the day.

A few weeks ago, on a sunny weekend day, a group of us decided to do the loop to get out of Chiang Mai for the afternoon. It was the first time Tina and I had taken the video camera out with us on the bike…you can see the resulting 5 minute video below.

The Samoeng loop is usually about 100kms (if you follow the route on the GT Rider website), however we took a bit of a detour through some villages and rice paddies to go to the Mae Sap cave which meant that the trip ended up nearer 130kms. Unfortunately, as we didn’t have a torch/flashlight with us we weren’t able to venture more than a few metres inside the cave…so if you’re planning on heading there, take one!

If you’re interested in doing the trip yourselves – we recommend referring to the map on the GT Rider website. We would like to thank Death in Vegas for using a sample from the tune ‘Aisha’ in the video.

Video: Rainy season (monsoon) in Chiang mai

The rainy season in Chiang Mai is fascinating and lasts from around June to about October. As opposed to most guidebooks I actually recommend people visit the city during this time of the year. There are several reasons for this: a) the rainy season doesn’t mean that it rains day and night, far from the truth. It may rain for one hour in the late afternoon and then not rain for the next 5 days or rain all night (when good children are asleep 🙂 ), b) Everything becomes green and the air is fresh after the little rain has gone. This time is beautiful, with many wild flowers around, and it is nice for trekking or visiting the mountains which is one of the main reasons people come to Chiang Mai, c) There is a very low level of pollution as opposed to the end of the cold season (from February to April) in which the levels of pollution becomes a hazard to health. During the rainy season the air is fresh in the morning, and the daytime is not too hot, d) The accommodation in the city is much cheaper than in the high season (from November until January).

All of this being said, I will have to warm you about the amounts of rain that comes down when it does rain. Within a matter of minutes it can change (and usually does) from a few drops to a torrential downpour which often leaves the streets flooded. The rain is usually heaviest in September, with an average precipitation of 250mm for that month. Another downside to the rainy season is the amount of mosquitoes in the beginning (May – June) – do put lots of mosquito repellent on.

The "rainy season" video below was taken on September 16th and shows you how much rain comes down at one time – enjoy 🙂

Video: Wat Umong (the forest temple), Chiang Mai

This video shows you the amazing Wat Umong temple in Chiang Mai.

Scenery: Peaceful land with lots of trees and shade on a hot day. You can feed the fish, turtles, and ducks in a large pond. The Wat is famous for its ancient tunnels and large stupa. Other attractions include a Buddha field of broken sculptures, a fasting Bodhisattva, a spiritual theatre of paintings, reproductions of ancient Buddhist sculptures from India, and a library-museum.

History: The monastery at Wat Umong is one of the oldest in Chiang Mai, dating back to 1300 A.D. The fable goes that a king built the brick-lined tunnels for an eccentric monk named Thera Jan. Once upon a time there were paintings decorated on the wall which dated back to about 1380. You can enter the tunnels to see the small shrines inside (a flashlight is useful). The adjoining stupa was constructed about 1520 over an earlier stupa (1400-1550). The monastery was eventually abandoned, though Japanese troops were said to have a stronghold here during World War 2. Since 1948, the Thai prince Jao Chun Sirorot has been active in rebuilding and reestablishing the monastery. In 1949 he invited Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (founder of Suan Mokkh in southern Thailand) to come and live in the monastery. Obligations kept Buddhadasa Bhikkhu from coming and instead he sent Ajahn Pannananda and other monks to help set up and run Wat Umong.

Tunnels at Wat Umong, Chiang Mai

Getting there: Wat Umong is located 3.5 km west of Chiang Mai. From Suandok Gate (the West gate of the old city) you drive up Suthep road (approximately 2, 5 km West) and cross Canal road. About half a kilometer after Canal road, there is a sign on your left hand side which leads you to Wat Umong. From here follow the signs south 1 km to the Wat. The easiest way is by tuk-tuk, scooter or bicycle.

Here’s a map

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