A long weekend means a trip out of town! Off to Khao Kho we go!
The trip up the mountain is a mere one hour scooter ride. After a burger and fries (with cucumber instead of pickle) we gas up just out of town. Right on time for some rain. So I throw on my bright red rain poncho. It acts like a big sail in the wind, and it forces me to watch my speed. As soon my visor gets mud-splattered, the rain lets up. Then traffic gets jammed up, and we have to merge to pass a police car and a collision. I can see a crushed scooter and a double fatality. I slow down even more.
The trip up the mountain is happily uneventful, but we’re not sure where we’re going. We are heading to a cabin owned by a former teacher. Our Filipino colleagues and their local friends frequent this cabin often, but they don’t know the name or the directions. We have a a pin and are using GPS.
After we turn off the highway, the paved road turns to dirt. Actually, it’s more of a mud slurry. It rained all morning, and I don’t have my nobby tires. Just as I think “one of us is going to bite it”, the scooter in front of me slips from right under it’s rider. Everyone lands on their feet, and the only damage is a muddy bike.
We manage to stay as lucky but not as clean. Within minutes the same scooter is down again – This time it’s going to leave a bruise. And a lot of laundry. The rider is covered in mud. But we ride on. A little shaken, but none the worse for wear. The road gets worse, and, HAT TRICK. Down a third time. Now the ego is bruised too. As we collect ourselves, we can hear calling from above the valley. It’s our friends at the cabin. We’ve put on quite a show for them.
The road gets much worse, as a local rides by on his scooter. He’s seen we’ve got ourselves in a mess. Between us and the cabin is a muddy pond and a steep hill. The local graciously rides the fallen scooter through the pond for us. But we have to abandon them at the bottom of the hill. There’s no way these little street scooters are going to make it up the mudslide.
Thai Camping with Filipino Hospitality
The cabin is nestled among the hilltops and low lying fog. On one side is rows of hot peppers, cabbage and lettuce.
The cabin has four rooms and a row of tents for rent. I hate camping, so a cabin room would do just nicely. We join a gang of Filipinos who have already made themselves at home. They are mostly English teachers from around the area who get together often. Music played all night and someone would always be belting out a verse or two.
Unfortunately we came ill-prepared for camping. We assumed we would be able to stop for groceries – we did not think we would be stranded on mud island. Luckily the Filipinos invited us to join in their boodle fight.
Check out this spread! The table was covered in palm leaves, and food was piled right on top. After our soup, we ate using just our hands – rice, pork grilled fish. It was all delicious. Watermelon, banana, and oranges for dessert.
Everything was cooked in the outdoor kitchen.
Our bellies full, the sun set, and the temperature dropping, it was time for a bonfire. And that’s when the whiskey started to flow. Soon we were playing games. Games not appropriate for school.
Fresh mountain air and breakfast met us in the morning. Rice, omelets, and fried eggs with sardines (my new favorite) to start the day. With the campers all packed up (it was only a one-night trip), we gathered up our wits to hit the muddy road.
Dad would be proud. First I rid the mud splatter from our visors. Next I ensure the side view mirrors are in place. ThenI expertly rode our bikes through the mudslide valley. Even though the road was still wet and mucky, it had dried up enough to make our ride back to the highway far less stressful.
Mountain Music Festival
Overcoat Music Festival is an annual event in the Khao Kho mountains, featuring some Thailand’s most popular bands. And they promised me it would be cold. I dared it to be cold. At midnight in the breeze, it was almost cool. Still not cold enough for this canuck to put on socks or a jacket.
The culture shock is what really got me. We set out our blankets, and everyone respectfully stayed off them. Occasionally, if someone couldn’t get by without stepping on a blanket, they would remove their shoes. People were really there for the music. They sang along with everything. It was fantastic. There were no drunks pushing people, getting into fights, or yelling gibberish. No one spilled booze. No d-bags or whoo girls. The overly drunk respectfully lost their cookies into a bucket or a ditch. It was fantastically civilized.
I loved the music. Loved it. I didn’t understand a word, but the band were great, and with everyone singing, the atmosphere was amazing.
Alcohol options were cans of beer or buckets of whiskey.
The concert ended around 4am, but I left around midnight.