Another place related with Somdet Ya, the mother of King Bhumiphol, is her royal villa in the north of Thailand. Located on a hilltop halfway between the town Chiang Rai and the Thai-Burmese border in Mae Sai, this villa was one of the most favorite residence places of the Princess Mother. The hilly landscape reminded her of her long-time home in Switzerland (though the hills there are much lower and it is much warmer), and it was in this area where she worked on helping the villagers to stop growing opium and selling their daughters into prostitution by teaching them to grow vegetables and other crops instead. The area around the royal villa even became a district named "Mae Fa Luang" in 1992 - Mae Fa Luang (mother from the sky) was the name she was know to the hill tribes.
The royal villa complex consists of three parts. One is of course the villa instead with a small flower garden around. As with all royal compounds one has to wear "appropriate" clothes to enter, or instead don one of the ugly blue overtrousers at the checkpoint not to show the bare legs. The buildings form a nice mixture of traditional northern Thai (Lanna) architecture with elements known from Switzerland like the flower boxes on the window. Located on the top of the hill, one has a beautiful view over the hills from the veranda.
On the other side of the street is a large flower garden, with small ponds, a circular flower bed, many orchids of course. Though I prefer the natural landscapes, this nicely designed artificial one was also enjoying.
Not far from the villa is another attraction, the temple Wat Phra That Doi Thung, which I will feature another time.