While in Chiang Rai for a few days I was *incredibly* lucky and got to stay at the Phu Chasai Mountain Resort and Spa. It was, in a word, HEAVEN. Tucked into the mountainside up a (very bumpy) dirt road, a series of buildings blending so seamlessly with the surrounding jungle you'd think they grew that way out of the ground.
I imagine a life lived close to nature would look a lot like this -- flowers and lush green plants intertwined with thatched roof huts, petals strewn along the walkways, birdcalls echoing in the misty dawn and a chorus of insects at night.
Speaking of which, the bug population here is... thriving. Not by inclination an outdoorsy, hey-let's-go-camping kind of gal, I spent the first evening flailing and freaking out at every be-winged and/or creeping creature in the vicinity. We were dining on the terrace under the hurricane lamps and at one point a rather large beetle flew into my salad and burrowed under a lettuce leaf. I can neither confirm nor deny that someone was verging on hysteria at this point. But our server very kindly came to my assistance and gently scooped the beetle up and away.
Apart from the bugs, there were also a few very laid-back, fluffy white dogs roaming the grounds and sleeping wherever they pleased, one shy little cat who sat in the middle of the breakfast buffet room every morning, and our own personal Tokay gecko in the rafters of our room who'd swear* at us intermittently during the night.
Sleeping under the white netting of a bamboo canopy bed, indulging in an utterly relaxing Thai massage, breakfasting in the open air dining room looking out over verdant hills -- I don't know if I've ever been anywhere more peaceful and organic-feeling. A palatable reminder of how far removed sanitized city living is from the vibrant, earthy reality of raw nature.
*the lizard produces a call that sounds almost exactly like "f*ck you"
Next in Thailand Travels: we fly down to Koh Samui for a completely different version of paradise -- sand, sunshine, and mango smoothies.