This is on the side of the mountain pass (1500 meters high) that divides Thailand and Burma, and there are military outposts along the road. Along this drive, we came to an Arboretum. What we had stumbled upon was nothing short of an enchanted garden.
Here, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and in this quite poor rural location, we found manicured gardens and beautiful stone paths that go on and on, with hundreds of gardeners keeping the grounds immaculate. Oh yeah, and we appear to be the only people in this arboretum; just Dan, me, and 100 of our closest Thai gardener friends.
Indeed, after being awed by garden after garden, we found a sign that led to a tunnel. That tunnel, cleverly curved so that you walk out of bright equatorial sun into total darkness, and then round a curve to see the light again, takes you to the other side of the mountain pass, where an entirely different garden experience awaits. It was here, that we met (though could not directly communicate with) what turned out to be our gardener guide. After asking to take his picture, and trying to express how fascinated we were with this magical place, he insisted in giving us a "tour", pointing out things that were off the beaten path, but special to him. It was quite a remarkable time.
Before the Doi Tung Development Project started, this mountain site was barren of trees, and covered with one of the largest opium fields in Thai territory. Now it is a magnificent arboretum, and my pictures don't do it justice, as it was a rather hazy day. But I feel safe in speaking for both Dan and me that we were awestruck with the beauty and mystical nature of this garden. Also check out a related post on my Reflections of Beauty blog, Finding God in the Park post.