Lee Wine, the resort on a slope in Ban Rak Thai overwhelms the landscape in this village of Chinese tea farmers and once upon a time Kuomintang combatants.
The resort is cleverly built with traditional Chinese cottages and roofs in a tea plantation making it a dream place for storyliving and storytelling. It is a clever way to market yourself and be seen on Instagram. But how about the resort itself? We were lucky to get a last-minute cancellation. The resort was fully booked for many months to come.
We got a house on the top with a nice balcony overlooking the Rich Pool lake. It is a small dam made for Feng Shui. In our room, there was a nice bathtub and panoramic Chinese moon window. Plenty of money is spent here on teak furniture.
Sometimes, I turn allergic to overhyped places that everyone has to go to. There are plenty of other nice places in Ban Rak Thai. But Lee Wine lived up to expectations. Their restaurant is just top class. Not only for the Yunnanese cuisine for dinner but also for the amazing attention they pay to their quality of noodles, steamed bread and so on. You have to enjoy Chinese food for breakfast if you stay here. But if you do you will understand what I mean. The subtle flavours and cooked to perfection dishes reminded me of a 5-star hotel in Taipei.
However, I felt that one night was enough here. I have frequented Ban Rak Thai from 1999 to 2012 very often and the transformation it went through to become a small piece of traditional China in Mae Hong Son for tourism could have annoyed me. But actually, they get away with it. Behind the facades of the sloping Chinese hotels, you can still find the traditional village with life going about as normal. And just on the border with Myanmar. It sits just on the border and Burmese pagodas are fully visible from here.
Once upon a time, the Kuomintang soldiers of the “lonely army” trapped in Yunnan couldn’t evacuate to Taiwan so they walked South, settling in Myanmar first and after they were kicked out from there. They resettled here and in Doi Mae Salong.
Helping the Thai Army to fight the local communist insurgency as a paramilitary army. Now they are peaceful farmers with one foot in their Chinese culture and one foot in Thailand. Ban Rak Thai, the village that loves Thailand.
So, yes Lee Wine is worth it. Book with them on Facebook and plan your trip early.