A Malaysian living in Mae Salong

I did not expect to find any Malaysian tourist in Mae Salong. So, can you imagine my disbelieve in finding a fellow Malaysian from Kuala Lumpur staying in Mae Salong.

One morning, I took a Toyota pickup from Mae Salong to Mae Sai market just to walk around. By the time the pickup reached my pickup point, it was already full of people, and vegetables and goods. Being the only guy (where have all the men gone to, I wonder?), I had to take up the worst possible position. The road down from the mountain has countless bends and you can imaging what would happen to me if an accident were to occur.

Toyota pickup: I was sitting like this man in Checker Shirt

On arrival at Mae Sai town, I found out there is a Chinese-looking lady with a small boy in her arm. She was doing a Visa-run at Mae Sai, like many Farangs do. She asked me in English where I was from. I told her of my country of origin, my trip, and she related her story. Below is Madam X’s story.

“X and her husband used to live and work in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A few years ago her husband had nose cancer. After a few treatments, the growth was contained. But his condition did not improve. A friend told them about a paradise known as Mae Salong where the air are fresh and water is clean. It will be ideal place for him to recupurate. As the cost of living is low here, he can afford to stop work temporarily and live on their savings. They took up the offer, packed and came to Mae Salong with little knowledge of what to expect. They rented a small house for 1500 Bahts per month. They could even afford a domestic helper.

They have lived there for 2 years. During this time, the husband’s health improved. She later gave birth to a baby girl (wonder if they named her after MaeSalong), their second child. She later told me that her husband has fully recovered and is now working in Hong Kong. She was planning to pack up and go back to Kuala Lumpur soon so that the kids can go to a Malaysian kindergarten.

I am sure Madam X will be missed by their neighbors, and similarly she will miss Mae Salong which is now part of her life.”

Who knows, I may be the next Malaysian sojourning or retiring in this lovely place.

19 responses to “A Malaysian living in Mae Salong

  1. Hi khun chin
    You seen to know a lot of Thailand and I am ready envy on your knownledge on Thai culture. I am one of the regular traveller from Malaysia to Thailand and I had been to Mae Sai and I have not heard of Mae Salong. I suppose Mae Salong must be a good place to retire and I am look forward to retire in Thailand. Hope you can continue to blog on Northern Thailand .Maybe you can advice me as to which part of Thailand to visit and retire one day

    Thank you khun chin

  2. It looks like we have a lot of Malaysians interested in travelling to Thailand.


  3. Khun chin and khun Kitjar,
    Hope one day we can sit togather with chinese tea from Mae Salong, to discuss on the topic and our experience on Thailand


  4. Thanks for the interest. I am glad to know that people are reading and that my time is not wasted. I will travelling with friends to Phuket/Ranong 5-8 Aug (AirAsia and rent-a-car) and to north Thailand with my family 12-17Octber (Tiger Airways Singapore $1 ticket)
    Will blog along.

  5. Where is place located exactly in thailand? northern part?

  6. Mae Salong is a lovely mountain town in uppermost northern Thailand. You start at Chiang Rai, drive about 30 minutes due north toward Mae Sai (which is right on the Burmese border), then turn left and drive up the mountain for about 45 minutes. Fine views, all levels of lodging, somewhat scruffy, nice guesthouses scattered outside town. Mae Salong is historically known as the last refugee in Thailand for the Kuomingtang (KMT) after their defeat in China by Mao. They later became some of the largest opium cultivators in the country, but that’s all gone now.

  7. More good stuff KhunChin! I enjoy the intimancy of your tales.

  8. I enjoy the intimancy of your tales,
    i often travel to thailand such as phuket, hatyai,
    i also like thai very much

  9. Thanks YS for visiting and leaving a comment.

  10. Tan Teik Chye

    Dear Khun Chin,

    Can you give more details of your stay
    and after you recuperate from your Nose Cancer, how are you doing now in
    Hong Kong? Life have to go on, but if you got some useful info about anything good advice, good interest
    & would like to share pls drop a line or two so that we can enjoy your experience and kind thai hospitality.
    I love Thailand, my roots are in Thailand, but I am born in Malaysia.
    feel like going back once I retire to find a nice place to call home,
    to sustain and enjoy the serenity of
    village life. I hope Thai government still have lots of jungle/forest not
    explored or explioted by others.

    Thank you to all.

  11. Hi Khun Chin,
    I have been to Thailand many times, mostly in the southern, such as Phuket, Koh Samui, Hatyai, Betong and Songkhla. But I was always fascinated with stories about Northern Thailand which I never been before and I was planning to have a holiday trip in Chiang Mai or maybe Mae Salong and Chiang Rai. I’m interested to know what are the interesting place to visit when I get there. I would be grateful if you could let me know where The best place to stay and visit. Wish you best of health and hapiness.
    Best Regards,

  12. HI Vincent, thanks for dropping by.

    MaeSalong is now part of tourist destination provided by KL tour agents. If you are a DIY tourist, you could also join a tour package to Mae Sai, golden triangle, DoiTung, etc. If you wish to visit MaeSalong, you need to inform the agent ahead. It is only a detour. In MaeSalong you could also visit a multi-purpose hall and read about the history of KMT soldiers and their stories. I found a history English book sold in one of the stores that is written by Malaysia in Penang. Amazing.
    I am exploring beyond Thailand this April 07 and will visit, Laos, China, and Myanma via Northern Thailand.

  13. Albert kee

    Fr Albert Kee
    Hi KhunChin,
    My group is visiting mae salong
    this coming Dec 07.Find this place very interesting after I read an article in star paper dated Feb 07. Hopefully i still able 2 meet the guy as stated in the paper ,General Lue.Any retiring malaysians that i have a chance 2 meet n have a cup of best ooilong tea?

  14. I am a Malaysian from Klang. Been to mae salong 3 times and will be there again in Nov 7 onwards guiding some ladies on atour of north thailand. Yes, northern Thai is wonderful place and I hope to retire there too, hopefully next year. There is a restaurant in the village offering bak kut teh because the wife worked in Johor before . She speaks Mandarin with the Malaysian “lah” which gave her away. She can also recommend good and cheap accomodation. The China products like shitake mushrooms are my favourite, nice and big..RM40 per kg. email..

  15. Dear KC,

    I am glad that we share the common love for MaeSalong.

    Retiring is easier said than done, At 55 I am still running around for the bank. Right now Sept 11 2007 10:50PM, I am still working in Jakarta Hotel Mulia Senayan.

    Enjoy life.

  16. Dear KhunChin,
    Yes many people envy me for my early retirement. Besides Nov 08, tonight I just booked another flight to Chiangmai in Mar -9. Am very serious to retire in northern Thailand and done a fair amt of homework. A Would like to rent a place first before commit to buy a house. Prefer the suburbs than city or rural town like Chiangsaen, Maesai, Chiangrai, Lamphun, etc. I can really use some help from anyone esp from a Malaysian’s point of view and to help me look out for a house to rent. Intend to make more regular trips from ’08 onwards.

  17. Cold environment could be found in Genting but the cost of living and the temptation to gamble away every penny is the detering factors. I hav being to Mae Sai,chiangsaen and doi tung spending a week here. Cost of living is really low. What I have doubt is the visa issue. Can you briefing me on this and is there a golf course there or the nearby one. Thanks. Wish you best of health and a happy festive season.

  18. If you visit maesalong. I hope you enjoy for living http://www.maesalonglittlehome.com
    Thank you

  19. I know that some of the local Thais in Chiang Rai make regular trips to Doi Maesalong to study Mandarin. I’m wondering is someone knows much about this for foreigners. How formal/informal is studying mandarin there?

    By the way, nice blog, KhunChin.

    I lived in Chiang Rai for several years back in the ’90s. I may move back next year.