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Chiang Mai Mountains Pagodas

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    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 colorful 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, India … 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. But never mind, it’s all part of the SE Asia travel adventures.

    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! That’s what backpacking through Thailand is like.

    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, Naphamethinidon and 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…

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