Mae Khanin in memoriam?
National parks are important to any gardener as a source of inspiration. Therefore I was sad to learn that a most adorable valley in the Opkhan National Park is (again) promoted as a site for a dam. Mae Khanin tai is situated some 25 km SW of the Chiang Mai Airport Plaza, and is one of these pristine mountain villages which the guide books claim does not exist anymore. I trust it is absolutely essential to quickly promote the valley for ecotourism, as otherwise many people, including villagers, would love to sell it to the concrete lobby. The valley is home to civets, barking dear, jungle fowl, makak monkeys and leopard cats. When I searched for orchids in the Mae Sa valley I was surprised to find hardly none, as they have been exterminated by forestry and illegal collectors. I was surprised, because I had been spoiled by the scenery in Mae Khanin, where rare native orchids are abundant. However, to see them, you have to climb straight up the hillsides, which is very tough. The silence, the adorable Lanna style temple and the steep mountainsides covered with indigenous trees should not be lost. A solution to the water needs would be to buy any other scrubland, dig a deep quarry and then collect more water, although we have many of those already here in Hang Dong. To get there, take the canal road past the Night Safari and past the Samoeng intersection. Keep driving along the canal another ca 5 km until you see a road sign saying “Opkhan National Park” to your right (west). Drive on that road about 12 km. Do not turn left where it says “Opkhan”, but keep driving on the brand new asphalt road straight west. At a fork, keep left. Drive until you see the cute little forest temple. If you speak Thai, ask for Duang Ta, who is married to the village head, and who is a proud defender of Thai nature. She might suggest what you can do to save the valley, or at least you can show her your sympathy, to boost her spirits to fight the giants.
Eric Danell, Dokmai Garden