Wednesday, May 28, 2014

There Is Something about Dumaguete

The bakery cafe was not as I remembered it. It was larger, able to fit six, seven big families, maybe. A number of servers walked around now, unlike being at the back of the counter like how it was before. The ambiance was more refined, but not pretentious, like you would expect a cafe to be in a learned (not to mention, moneyed) university town.

Dumaguete, Philippines
Dumaguete, you charming small town, you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Photos from a Day in the Jungles and Caves of Pang Mapha

Pang Mapha is a smattering of small villages in mountainous Mae Hong Son province in Northern Thailand. It is about an hour from the very popular and touristy town of Pai, but not many people make it out here, oddly enough. Truth be told, I preferred it that way.

When I traveled to Pang Mapha, things remained quiet. And freezing cold. But mostly quiet. It was the perfect place to enjoy nature pure and simple. And enjoyed nature I did.

That day, fellow travelers and I were exploring the jungles and the many caves of Pang Mapha. After all, Pang Mapha is on the tourist map of Northern Thailand precisely because of these caves. Though I am no fan of caves, caving, or spelunking, these products of nature are something else.

The largest cave system is Tham Lod, complete with park offices and rafting tours (a river runs through some parts). That did not stop us from exploring the jungle and the other caves surrounding it, of course.

Here are some photos from that day in the jungles and caves of Pang Mapha.

Mae Hong Son, Thailand
The largest and most prominent of the cave systems of Pang Mapha: Tham Lod

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Day Trek to the Summit of Big Thumb of Pang Mapha in Mae Hong Son, Thailand

The hill side was thick with fallen dried leaves. The trail we were following up this mountain disappeared many meters behind us. At this point, we were really just winging it. Unsuccessfully, I might add. A couple of steps climbing up the hill and we slide down taking dried leaves, twigs, branches, and rocks with us. Not pleasant.

I looked back through a clearing in the tree line and see more hills, thick with the semi-temperate forests of this far Himalayan foothill. I had given up on the idea that we would be able to finish this day trek. It was getting late after all. So I just entertained myself with the thought that being so close to the Myanmar border, we might have already crossed it.

Of course, not that day. That afternoon, we were still trying to summit one of the many limestone karst hills of Pang Mapha in Mae Hong Son, Thailand. They called it Big Thumb.

Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Pang Mapha's Big Thumb sticking out like a sore, well, thumb. Views from up there, well, you'll see.