Yes, Thailand has mountains too! Is there anything that the country couldn’t offer to its visitors?
I plan to go Doi Inthanon (Thailand’s highest mountain) but end up going to Doi Suthep, as the journey to Inthanon is long and the lazy ass me woke up late.
I rent a gearless bike from my guesthouse and drive up the mountain on smooth buttery roads amid beautiful mountain scenery.
I make my first stop at Wat Phrathat, I park on the side but just cannot manage to lock the seat. I keep the helmet under it anyway, and pray to God that nobody steals it. I am a devout Hindu.
From the parking a steep 200 odd stairs takes me to the temple. The interiors of the temple are stunning and there is a giant golden statue of Buddha right in the center. Majestic! I want to stay for longer but there is so much rush, lot of devotees, incense everywhere.
I walk around the temple and find a huge terrace with an excellent view of the town. After the temple I drive further up to reach the palace garden and take a walk in the nature. The place is huge with a myriad of colourful flowers around.
I drive further up the road until the road forks into two – one to a heritage village and one to the peak. It’s getting late so I can choose only one. For some reason the word heritage doesn’t interest me much, I take the road to the right. I ride through the jungle on a road full of hairpin bends, so damn exciting; reminds me of rides to Mussoorie … ah… good old college days. So many memories.
I park the motorbike outside the entrance and start to walk. Leaves crunch and the twigs crack under my feet as I take sturdy steps toward the peak. It is getting dark, sun is slowly descending on the horizon.
On my way I meet a few people who suggest me to take a left from the peak, walk down to another open area and then take the stairs leading down into the jungle and finally onto a thin trail which leads to a view point.
Hmm… if only I could remember I am no big on following directions. I rely too much on technology.
It is getting darker and I (think) am the only person cutting through the silence of the jungle except… I feel as if someone is hiding out there and observing my moves. I can’t shake that eerie feeling of being watched.
I reach the point right at the time of sunset. I sit down on the wooden bench and watch the Sun go down against a backdrop of beautiful green hills.
Silence, absolute silence. Everything is so still, nothing moves, not even leaves. Except, maybe…
Neah, it’s all in my head.
I walk back as fast as I can; I look back time and again, there is no one there except the eerie feeling. I am so relived when I spot my scooter in the parking area. I drive straight to the guest house.
# # #
I wake up early, all excited for the long ride to Doi Inthanon. In contrast to Doi Suthep, the road to Doi Inthanon from Chiang Mai is absolutely straight like a line drawn between the two. I drive at 85-90 most of the time, I even touched 99 at one time, all on the gearless motorbike, unexpected. Pure joy!
The first stop on the way to the peak is a waterfall, a real waterfall (unlike the one I saw in Kampot). The waterfall is so damn majestic and a natural great crowd puller. After the waterfall I continue to the peak, the highest point in Thailand. Once there I feel the chill the temperature is around 18 degrees!
I come down to stop at the two colourful stupas; a large garden surrounds the two pagodas, Naphamethinidonand Naphaphonphumisiri which lie opposite to each other.
On my way back I ride the bike like wind. I am getting late for my night bus out to Bangkok. I grab an awesome tasting coffee at @milk before returning the motorbike.
By the time I pack my stuff and check-out from the guest house it’s around 20:30, no time for dinner. I wave goodbyes to the beautiful Chiang Mai as I ride a tuk-tuk to the bus station. Can I drive it, please, please? No, says the driver.
The bus is right on time; I have just enough time to grab a mushroom sandwich from 711.
So long Chiang Mai…