A short distance north of Mae Hong Son sits the small village of Ban Kung Mai Sak. Across from the village, on a hill overlooking it sits a temple, Wat Tham Pu Sama. Between the two, the Mae Sa Nga River flows past lush fields of rice paddies. In 2012 rice plantation owners donated land across their fields and with the help of the local villagers, a 500m bamboo bridge was built to link the village with the temple, allowing monks on their morning alms rounds to reach the village more easily, and giving villagers a more direct route to the temple. The bridge was named Su Tong Pae, which translates to “successful prayer” in the local Thai Yai language.
We arrived at the end of the bridge near the Wat as the heat of the midday sun beat down from above. We always try to get going earlier in the day to avoid the worst hours of heat but as they say, “The best laid schemes o’mice an’ parents gang aft a-gley.” That is what they say, isn’t it? No? It should be. So there we stood at one end of a 500m bridge made from bamboo, stretching out over open ground in front of us. The bridge is a lovely structure really, beautiful in its simplicity of design and function. As far as tourist attractions go, and this is one of the most popular ones in Mae Hong Son, there isn’t a lot to do. It’s a bridge. You walk over it. Then you turn around and walk back. So that’s what we did. Ben immediately took off at a run ahead of us, jumping and making loud random noises as he went and breaking at least half of the rules hand-painted on a sign in front of us. I didn’t think we’d be terribly popular with the locals when Ben fell through a 5-year old sized hole of his own making so I hurried after him, trying to reign in his enthusiasm.
The best time to visit is during the rainy season when the surrounding rice paddies stretch off into the distance, green as far as the eye can see. Arriving in November we were just that little bit late, but it was beautiful nonetheless and we stood on the bridge and watched farmers harvesting and threshing the rice.
The kids explored the bridge and Alex made sure they didn’t fall off or break it while I had my camera out.
After traversing the bridge we climbed some steps to the Wat at the top of the hill. The kids found some rocks to bash together while I explored a bit and Alex took in the view.
On our way back to the bikes Chloe excited told us that she had found a “Ben statue” that she wanted to show us, one that apparently looked like Ben. Lo and behold, sitting at the bottom of the steps was this fellow:
Chloe said he looks like Ben because he is playing on an iPad and has a huge grin on his face. Ben agreed. Modern statuary these days, eh?