So I was supposed to leave Chiang Mai and go north a few hours to Pai to take in the Thai version of hippie culture but that didn’t end up happening. On Wednesday me and 3 friends I met while traveling went up to Doi Suthep-Pui National Park which is just northeast of Chiang Mai.
It’s easy to reach and is transverse by car or motorbike to a point until the roads start to narrow. It was a good day, we visited Wat Phra That Doi Suthep that had an amazing view of Chiang Mai but the fog was ubiquitous because of the rainy skies. You had to go up a huge staircase to visit the Wat and as always had to remove your shoes before entering the inner sanctum. It’s founding follows the legend of the White Elephant which you can read about on Wikipedia here.
Then we were late to visit Bhubing Palace which closes at 3:30 pm. So make sure you give yourself time to get up to it. We actually got there in time but were starving. So we had lunch first and just as we were done it closed. We got to a viewpoint but the weather was rainy that day which meant we were in a fog soup, making any view non existent.
Then the roads began to contract and shrink to motorbike size, although that never stopped cars from using them, with almost no room to maneuver at all, but they seem to manage remarkably well. We thought it was 13 km to the summit but it was well more than double that.
There isn’t a gas station once you start your incline up the summit so make sure to have at least 3 quarters of a tank to get both up and down. If you really need fuel, little stops will sell them for the highway robbery price of 50 THB a liter but when you need it, you need it so what can you do.
We continued up the road and ended up going to coffee shop at a research station that had a picturesque view of the area and then to a Hmong Village instead of the summit. We started down a road that became a path that became a trail but we ended up just turning back and going to the village instead. We stopped at this little coffee shop on the way.
The village was one where coffee was grown and you could taste the difference in it, as they were freshly ground and roasted as you watched. I wasn’t driving the bike although I wanted to but that meant I could take pictures along the way which I thought was a fair trade at least until it started to rain.
We saw a bunch of kids just playing around and it shows you how universal kids are, they played outside in a village on a mountain. Now that my friends is cool, they looked so happy and didn’t need an electronic device to do it. It reminds you how much we’ve come to depend on our devices and that is great and powerful but almost divorces us from the world we see every day, I know it does for me.
Going down in the dark was a much faster ride, as Pascal the driver on my bike had gotten used to the ride all 4 of us blazed down the mountain ready to call it a night. Afterward we had dinner at a place in the old city. Shazaan said it was always packed and I have no idea what it was but it was good and relatively cheap compared to the first cup of coffee I had when I first got to Bangkok.
I think the cool day made it easier to do because although we got some rain it came and went just as fast. We were not sweating and it felt more like fall in the Northeast than Asia and that was a nice change of pace after weeks of heat and constant sweating.
We chilled at Julie’s Guest House before wandering down Loy Kroh road where they had a massage, we played pool and played a game of Beer Pong. That’s when good became bad and I got screwed and it all started with that game of Beer Pong at the Playhouse. I’m still dealing with the ripples of it, but I’ll get into that later, when I’ve worked though the roadblocks.