The Chinese have a word for their dreamy landscape paintings: Shan Shui 山水 – “Mountain Water”. These landscapes are often graced by wistful poems for nostalgic travelers, such as this one:
今曉日兼雨 This morning there was sun and rain,
土芳當腳髒 The earth is fragrant, and it’s fitting that my feet are dirty.
故鄉隔天末 My home’s beyond the edge of the clouds,
异客應爽心 The foreigner should have a cheerful heart.
The poem evokes a sense of enjoying the freshness of the mountain air, of finding an open space to clear one’s mind, while contemplating life’s far-flung journeys. As you slowly climb the road through the foothills on the way to Samoeng, you can cheer your own heart in a natural setting of flowing water and mountain forest at Tara Coffee.
The demure shop is fronted by a decorative water wheel, turning slowly with the flow that brings refreshing energy via an open stream running into the natural wood interior, where the water then cascades down to the lower floor, open to green peaceful space. The décor is simple and tasteful…it reminds me a little of walking into a Japanese onsen. The building’s three levels—from loft, to main floor, to outdoor balcony—are spacious, yet give an intimate, cozy feeling.
The coffee meets the standards of this coffee-connoisseur region, and there is an excellent selection of baked goods, such as apple crumble, coconut pie, and cherry cheesecake to accompany your beverage.
Other than the European-style baked goods, the menu is limited to reasonably-priced Thai dishes, mostly prepared in the deliciously spicy northeastern (Khorat) style. The house specialty is the papaya salad, while other standards are available such as minced pork, stir-fried fish…and deep-fried frogs for the daring! If you are sensitive to spicy hot dishes, be sure to tell the staff, who are friendly and accommodating, to cool it down a little (the Thai phrase to ask for non-spicy is “mai pet”).
Getting there: From the next intersection to the south of the road to the Night Safari, Road 1269, head West toward Samoeng. You’ll find the café just 1.9 km from the intersect, on the right (north) side of the road, straight across from the entrance to the housing area Saen Saran Village.