Ang Khang Station, cool in so many ways (Chiang Mai)

The Royal Project, Doi Angkhang

I am going to finish the blogs of the recent visit to Chiang Mai with this third article about Ang Khang Station nestled in the foothills and slopes of Doi Ang Khang.  Whenever I visit Thailand, it’s invariably about golf, shopping and chilling (ie not doing anything).  This time round, I decided to follow a friend’s recommendation and visit Doi Angkhang up in the mountains of Chiang Mai.  I’m glad I followed her great travel tip because I experienced something totally different from the shopping and eating in Chiang Mai’s city centre.  And I have to say, this place is cool in so many ways!

Map to Ang Khang Station (courtesy Ang Khang Station)

First, the weather.  Ah, peacefulness and cool weather greet the visitor in Doi Angkhang.  I loved the mountain air and the bright sunshine that did not burn!  One point to note and the trip to Doi Angkhang is pretty winding so make sure you take motion sickness pills if you’re prone to motion sickness.  Some of the bends are like 90 degree turns!!  Just look at the turns on the map above.  Needless to say, my girlfriend E and I were turning ‘green’ halfway through our trip 😦

Next, the cool project.  The project at Doi Angkhang is called ‘The Royal Project’ or TRP for short.  Lucky that our driver was sensitive to our ‘green’ situation and stopped just before going into the facility.  The market at the entrance is really fantastic and sells loads of fresh pistachios, almonds and dried longans as well staples like eggs and instant noodles.  Of course being a bit touristy, they sell the usual handicrafts and even though we were a little green, we went for the food 🙂  TRP is a farming project started by His Majesty, King Bhumipol of Thailand.  In the early sixties, the land near the Thai/Burmese/Cambodian borders were littered with poppy farmers.  Not the best crop to grow in the long term, so His Majesty took it upon himself to get his people to move away from such farming to one which produced good,basic food for Thailand!

Artichokes

Third, the cool produce.  Produce from this project is amazing – the temperate climate fruit and vegetables is being consumed not only by the good people of Thailand but is also being shipped to other ASEAN countries (Singapore is a good example where we get alot of the produce from juicy peaches to luscious veggies like pumpkin and cauliflower).

Sorting Peaches

Children waiting for their Father

Fourth, our cool guide. Khun Jaa was a wealth of knowledge about the project and the farms.  The project has a research facility that looks into all things farming – better crop yield, water, better growth tactics for crops and farming methods.  They help educate the farmers from whom they buy the produce from.  And we were fortunate that on that particular day, the farmers and their children were at TRP’s facility as they were bringing in their peaches to be weighed and sorted – the kids were on holiday and while waiting for their parents to finish their work, they were snacking on rejected peaches!  Very eco-friendly 🙂

Veggies Galore!

Fifth, the cool marketing.  To get the produce into the hands of chefs and restaurants, TRP holds gourmet food tastings at the facility which are conducted by well-known chefs based out in Thailand.  Khun Jaa mentioned that they have a really good gourmet tour in early January/February where attendees stay in the surrounding area and a tour is conducted for them.  In the evening, they get to sample a sumptious dinner prepared and cooked by the invited chefs.  Great way to show off the produce in a fabulous environment 🙂

Visitors can also buy the produce at TRP and E and I helped ourselves to bags of fresh peaches and strawberries.  It got me into dreaming about peach pie and strawberry shortcakes…mmm!  I have to say that the fruit I bought was very reasonably priced and of course, the freshest I’ve tasted in a long while.

Last but not least, the cool flowers 🙂 The  facility has a lovely temperate flower garden of which many of the flowers are exported.  Many Thais visit Doi Angkhang in November right up till end March to enjoy the lovely cool and dry weather during this period.  I have to say though that even when we were there in mid-April, the  mountain surrounds were not humid and the air fresh.

We had lunch at the facility’s restaurant and the food of course, was delicious!  Thank goodness the trip back to Chiang Mai city was uneventful – no motion sickness!  I don’t think the driver would’ve liked us very much if we had messed up his car 🙂 Tours to TRP can be easily arranged while in Chiang Mai and the tour desks of the hotels will be ever willing to help put together an itinerary.

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