Phumanee Lauhu Home Hotel

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Date of travel

January, 2019

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Culture / Sightseeing

The two-star “Phumanee Lahu Home Hotel”: Phumanee Lahu Home Hotel is located in Fang which is within the Thai province of Chiang Mai.

On entering room 201 on the first floor (note there is no lift), we immediately noticed two things. Firstly, beautiful black and red, Lahu hill-tribe textiles on the bed and a traditional outfit displayed above it. Secondly, a 2-foot wooden ledge running around the bed which would mean having to get your leg over it every time you got in and out.

The next two rooms had open doors and we peeked in: 202 had twin beds, and 203 an edgeless double bed. We asked if we could swap to 203 which was no problem. But having moved our luggage, we discovered there was no water in the bathroom. We eventually realised that the water had been turned off, but having got it back on, the loo didn’t flush properly.

We moved yet again, into the twin-bedded 202 and whilst it wasn’t the most spacious, it was fine for our two-night stay. There was an old-fashioned TV (201 had a flat screen), tea and coffee making facilities, complimentary water, empty fridge and limited hanging space. However, there were plenty of plug points in useful places and rush matting covering what looked like old worn tiles.

The simple bathroom had loo, open shower and limited space for toiletries. The water was hot in the shower, unlike the basin, which only had cold water and no plug. Whilst we rectified the latter with our universal plug, I’m told shaving in cold water isn’t good. There was no hairdryer or room safe, but valuables could be left at reception. Wi-Fi was available, but the signal was intermittent and limited and I achieved better reception sat outside the hotel using the Wi-Fi of the café across the road.

This is the first Lahu hill tribe hotel in Thailand and a small display on the first-floor landing charted the family history. The first-generation Tribe Leader, Pu Muen, was from Tibet but migrated to Thailand via China and Burma. On his death in 1969 he was succeeded by his son-in-law, Jafa Chaikor. Jafa received the King’s patronage in 1970 for growing tea and coffee on the mountain Doi Pu Muen instead of opium. However, he was assassinated by a villager who lost out on opium revenue. One of Jafa’s 11 children, Jirawan, studied tourism at university and established the hotel.

Meals were included in our rate. On our first night we ate on an outdoor terrace with awning and fairy lights. We started by learning how to make our own green papaya salad which involved a huge, deep pestle and mortar and a variety of ingredients: red chilli, garlic, green beans, palm sugar, lemon juice, fish sauce, tomato chunks, crispy shrimps, crushed peanuts and julienned green papaya and carrot. A great assortment of dishes were then served at regular intervals: chicken and potato soup, small strips of pork in a basket with a chilli dip, fried chicken on crispy seaweed served with a dollop of mayonnaise and presented in Chinese spoons, tea leaf salad served in four small dishes, minced pork steamed in a banana leaf, a plate of wok-fried ladies’ finger, and rice in a bamboo carton. It was excellent and we finished with a plate of apple, mango and dragon fruit.

Lunch was similarly extensive and one day we had clear soup with chicken and vegetables, rice, spicy chicken with holy basil, fish cakes with tea leaves and sweet chilli dipping sauce, and flat noodles with vegetables and pork. For pudding we enjoyed dragon fruit and melon balls in a hollowed-out dragon fruit which was beautifully displayed on a board with flowers.

In contrast to sumptuous lunches and dinners, breakfast was simple with chopped apple and salad, fried eggs, a brazier for toast and excellent orange marmalade. There were no cereals or yoghurt.

This was probably one of the busier hotels we stayed in on our tour of Thailand and was popular with groups.

Helen Jackson

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