The Bamboo Nest is a nature resort outside of Chiang Rai.
Calling it a resort stretches the definition of resort. Situated on a deserted hillside in the middle of nowhere, there is running water and electricity generated from solar panels stored in batteries sufficient to power a few lightbulbs at night. No aircon. No internet connection. No television. No swimming pool. And when we visited, no other guests. We had the resort, which is just a hilltop with a dirt road leading up to it, to ourselves.
Accommodations are bamboo huts constructed using only a machete to chop the bamboo, ropes made from bamboo fibers, and some poured concrete for the bathroom floor. No nails or other modern fasteners are used in the construction.
There are no real directions to get there. You drive to a nearby landmark (the Phasoet Hot Springs), call, and the owner’s husband drives down on his motorcycle to meet you. You follow him off the main road, past a Karin village, and up a steep dirt road to the top of a hill where the resort is located.
Once you are there, the owner (a nice Thai woman) and her husband take care of you–cooking your food etc. There is a menu to order off of but some of the items involve the husband making a motorcycle run for ingredients.
When friends of mine back in The World talk about “getting away from it all”, it usually means heading toward an upscale beach side resort with a pool, luxury rooms with LCD TV’s and a full staff to take care of you. During the day you hop on an air conditioned bus for a package tour of local attractions and return at night to eat western food in an air conditioned dining room.
I’ve been on many of these and you don’t really get away from anything. In Cancun, the staff stands around angling for tips, the tours are sucker traps designed to get you on the bus with a low price and then deliver you to captive markets where maximum coin is extracted with inflated prices on crap souvenirs and the obsequious tour guide reminds you repeatedly how little he gets paid and how he will appreciate a big tip at the tour’s conclusion. When you leave the hotel, the taxi monopoly pesters you when you object to the pricing, harasses you when you walk down the street to next taxi stop to escape them, and everything within a reasonable distance is within a special tourist zone where special licenses, taxes, and bribes apply, competition is artificially restricted, and price fixing agreements enforced.
At The Bamboo Nest, no one has a piece of your action and there is no marketing plan to increase the drop.
I suppose you can say The Bamboo Nest is the Un-Resort.
Here is the husband leading us to The Bamboo Nest on his motorbike.
These are some of the kids who live in the village at the bottom of the hill.
And here is the owner’s husband. We stopped at a store on the way to pick up ice.
Here is a video made when driving down from the cabins to the main road.
These are the cabins. and the view.
At night there is not a single light in view. The mountains out to the horizon are bereft of human habitation— or at least inhabitants who have electricity.
And at night there are no man made sounds. Just animals. Eery.
The owner says there are wild cats (leopards) and boars in the jungle and the locals hunt them.
All my life I’ve been into military history and sitting on the hilltop, my thoughts turned to American soldiers humping through similar jungles in Vietnam and what jungle combat is like. The combat in most movies is pretty unrealistic but sitting at night at The Bamboo Nest, without sight or sound of other humans gave me a sense of what it might be like to be a U.S. soldier hunched down in the jungle during the Vietnam War listening for the sound of enemy activity. Sitting out at night gives a real first hand idea of what jungle warfare can be like.
This hillside is perfectly sited for an artillery fire-base that could command the countryside for miles around. Supplies and equipment could be trucked in on the dirt road and American patrols could be sent out into the jungle interdicting enemy activity. Instead of darkness and silence the nights would be lit by the sounds of gunfire.
The brow of the hill on the upper left is a perfect position for a sniper to position himself. He could scoot between multiple shooting positions and escape after his shot by running down the backside of the hill. And he would have an unobstructed shot to anything on the hill.
Eyeballing it, the hill is about 1000 yards away, putting it at the outside edge of a high powered .30 cal rifle from the Vietnam era.
BTW, my favorite Vietnam war movies are Full Metal Jacket and Forrest Gump. The boot camp scenes from both capture the military mindset and reality better than so called serious movies like Apocalypse Now and Platoon ever will.
The inside of the cabins are sparse, functional, and actually quite comfortable.
The floors are woven bamboo on top of bamboo poles. The furniture is all made from bamboo and their is a mosquito net for sleeping.
The bathrooms too are clean and functional.
Here are some banana-pineapple crepes and some chicken and rice cooked by the owner.
The fruit is grown by the owner in a garden on the premises and the was most likely slaughtered in the village at the base of the hill.
No food could be fresher.
I am not sure who would enjoy a long sojourn at The Bamboo Nest.
You are traveling to the end of the world and placing yourself in seclusion. You can keep personal electronic devices powered up and there is cell service but no 3g. You can use the portable wi-fi hotspot feature on your smartphone to get on the internet and check email but that’s about all the limited download speed will allows.
You can bring an ebook reader, some paper books and a flashlight, or your girlfriend for good old time nature fun under the mosquito net.
Or you can just sit around, enjoy the solitude, contemplate your place in the world, how your life has enfolded, and what might lie ahead before that final curtain comes down.
That’s what I did.