A three day Road Trip to view the renowned Sea of Clouds at Na Haeo on the Thai-Laos border.
Na Haeo is a District/Sub District in the Province of Loei, one of Thailand’s least populated regions.
We left Khon Kaen on AH16 and turned north at Huai Sanam Sai, eventually arriving at the Nam Nao ‘Grand Canyon’ and Tad Yai Waterfall.
Nam Nao Grand Canyon
I’ve seen enough wats (temples) to last me a lifetime and now rarely take photos of them, however, the temple at the entrance to Nam Nao was exquisite and deserved a memory-jogging pic.
Tad Yai Waterfall
A great feature of Tad Yai in the middle of the year is that visitors can safely walk across, up and down the width of the waterfall on non-slippery rock. Further down the valley is more hazardous, however, there is no need to go there to appreciate the beauty of this feature.
Corn seemed to be the major commercial crop in this area.
Through the Mountains
Route 2216 winds its way uphill between the Nam Nao and Phu Kradueng National Parks. It’s a good road and the many bends, both tight and sweeping, made for a great drive, detracted somewhat by very heavy rain. Extra caution was needed where water flooded across the road, visibility was only a few metres and other drivers seemed to be on a death mission.
The winding road continued through Kok Ka Thon (where we turned onto Route 221) all the way to the mountain village of Na Haeo.
Drive up a Mountain
Next morning the Sea of Clouds experience seemed to be ‘off’. Apparently no vehicle and driver could be found.
The workplace issue was resolved and a local was assigned to pilot us to the Sea of Clouds Lookout. The journey up the mountain in a dual cab Hilux ute to the Sea of Clouds lookout was as nerve-wracking a drive as any I’ve done.
While I may be becoming more risk adverse, I was thankful the overloaded vehicle didn’t slip on the muddy track, stall on the little jump-ups on an already very steep incline, or otherwise misbehave on its mission to deliver 10 punters to the lookout, each of them blissfully unaware of the potential peril they were in.
Sea of Clouds – an amazing natural phenomenon
The ‘sea of clouds’ occurs in a valley and is caused by a temperature inversion. The air above the clouds is very dry. Such conditions are best experienced early morning.
The drive down the mountain, while certainly safer, was not without risk. We returned to Na Haeo and then went to have a look at Laos.
Wat Po Chai
An early construction (possibly a temple) has been preserved at Wat Po Chai. It is architecturally different to other contemporary and proximate Thai structures.
Number 9 – amazing road engineering
Instead of taking Route 2216 we remained on Route 221 south of Kok Ka Thon to Asian Highway 16. Though longer, it was a quicker and easier route to get to our overnight stop.
Hua Tong Bridge
The Hua Tong Bridge is touted as the highest bridge in Thailand. The veracity of that claim is not as important as the opportunity the carpark provides food vendors to market their product to the passing punters who stop to take a photo of what really is a beautiful bridge.
Our overnight stop was at Nadia Resort, a large bleak collection of chalets that was surprisingly well patronised. Probably because it is a convenient distance from Bangkok for a weekend away. The regular afternoon storm caused our donga to leak, requiring a change of accommodation. Nadia Resort is conveniently located to the Blue Lagoon and a Rural Atmosphere Coffee Making Experience at Choen Tai.
Coffee Experience at Choen Tai
This was an interesting, real life demonstration of cooperative Thai culture. We were instructed to park our car at a shop’s carpark at the intersection of Route 2361 and Tha Sala Ruam Chai Alley. At this point we were met by some elderly locals who transported us by motorcycle sidecar about 600 metres to the edge of the lake where a valiant attempt was made to create a ‘campfire’ by which to heat water for coffee. We could, of course, have driven directly to this point, and some others did just that. Coordinated and cooperative local commerce in play.
We had to double back on our tracks to get to Blue Lagoon and, after visiting that spot, again drive on routes already driven to get back to AH16.
While picturesque, Blue Lagoon is not a natural feature. It is a long-abandoned, since-inundated, stone quarry that has enough appeal to attract punters to visit it so some local entrepreneur can sell them some pork and sticky rice.
From Blue Lagoon it was uncomplicated run back to Khon Kaen.
© Kim Epton 2022-2024
1040 words, 36 photographs, 4 images.
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