If you saw Doi Inthananon park before the tremendous job they did reforesting it you would not recognize the landscape. Today the denuded slopes and washed out streams are no longer recognizable. The park is a lush, thriving example of Thailand's highly successful efforts toward mitigating the damage of tree removal and unwanted cultivation in Northern Thailand. To really get a taste of this park consider doing a short guided trek to one of the Karen Villages. We spent 1/2-day in the park conferencing with forest restoration staff and used the remaining 1/2-day to tour the park. The tour departed from the main road a short distance west of headquarters. The hike took us downstream toward the village of Baan Mae Glang Luang, a hillside Karen village that is now a role model for alternative land-use practices. It took 2-hours to reach the village including a lunch stop along the small mountain stream that carved its way down the valley. The trail is clear, flat and not demanding given the hike was mostly downhill. Several interesting small, wooden bridges are crossed as the trail shifts several times back and forth across the river. Along the way you walk through small enclaves where people farm vegetables, cut flowers and fruit. Their homes are rustic traditional hill tribe buildings built from local logs and poles. Lovely waterfalls and bouldery streambeds give ecological diversity to dense forest you walk through. The trek ends at the village, but before reaching it the forest gives way to open-hillsides of cultivated fields and rice patties. Closer to the village coffee trees laden with green and red beans become examples of the new economy. Further along are attractive bungalows that serve as basecamp for tourists and trekkers wanting to overnight. We of course stopped for coffee, it being made by boiling in pots. The brew, a thick, strong decant that might add a few hairs on the chest. I couldn't help but purchase several pounds for the rest of the trip. Before you leave you pass their crafts shop where Karen girls offer weavings, shirts, and scarfs. Prices and products so far exceed what you'll find in Chiang Mai don't hesitate to purchase what you like, I came away with coffee and a traditional Karen shirt. I now wish I also purchased a Karen side bag, nothing compared elsewhere in Thailand.
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