Escape to Chiang Mai

Happy New Year

The weather was cooling so we decided it was a good time to walk the ‘monks trail’ up the local mountain to Wat Doi Suthep the most iconic temple of a city with more Wats than any other city in Thailand. This temple attracts more than a million visitors a year and is one of the main tourist attractions. It’s gold, gold and more gold….

We walked the trail towards the end of our stay last year in February and decided then we should do it more often. We arrived at the start of the trail by 9.15, it begins at the back of Chiang Mai zoo near a big television mast and is a 4.5km walk. As we arrived at the start of the trail there were a few people around, it was a lovely morning, not too hot. All you need is water, a stout pair of boots, plenty of sun cream on and lots of bug spray!!

The first part of the trail is along dusty paths, gently winding up the mountain, there are faded orange cloths tied around the trees so you don’t lose the trail.

The birdsong, hum of insects and the sound of water in the lush forest surround you, it’s enchanting. The deciduous forest itself has over 90 species of trees per hectare and over 2000 different plants and ferns, more than anywhere else in Thailand. The whole mountain is a National Park. A few people passed us on the trail but we were mostly alone, just walking and listening. It takes about an hour to get to our favourite temple Wat Palad which you approach over a small bridge. This temple nestles under a canopy of trees and next to a waterfall which runs over huge slabs of granite and has a beautiful view of the city below.

There were lots of people at the Temple and we come at least once a week so we used the facilities and decided to crack on.

You leave the temple at the back of the waterfall. The second part of the walk is much steeper and more vertical, clambering over boulders and tree roots, I really need longer legs, there are lots of trees and things to grab hold of but mostly covered in big ants, red ones, so I try not to, they bite. It’s really hard work for 15 minutes until you reach the road which you have to cross.

It’s this next part of the walk which gets much harder. You really have to watch your footing on the makeshift forest staircase. The forest changes as you climb above 1,000m, from lush more open forest to dense evergreen undergrowth. There is more bird life, there are 300 different species of birds, an ornithologists heaven.

All along this part of the trail are power lines which stretch from the road and border the paths all the way to the temple at the top. There is a constant stream of ants on the cables, it’s like an ant super highway. If you tap the wires every ant freezes it’s really surreal, then after a few seconds they start again. Good game!! We seemed to finish this walk much quicker and less breathlessly than last year, maybe all this gym stuff is paying off. We arrived on the road just below Wat Doi Suthep to a traffic jam, it was obviously very busy so we hopped into a songthau and went and found a well deserved breakfast.

I love Satva yoga here in CM, run by Freddy and Nit. We have been many times before and there are lots of things to play with. These pictures were last year.

There’s aerial ropes, yoga wheels, gym balls, bamboo with padded hanging ropes all along the walls, lots of blocks and bolsters, it’s very well equipped. We talked a young couple Lauren and Carl from our hotel into coming to the class as they had never tried yoga before and really wanted to. When we got there we were surprised to see a full S. Korean TV crew who wanted to film the session. Nit asked me if I’d stand in a certain place, with Lauren and one of the Korean crew who was joining in. When I looked up all the cameras, some on the ceiling, some on tripods and some hand held were aiming straight at us.

As soon as we started the session I realised I could have worn a better top as the one I had on was a bit low. Some of the postures, dog down to dog up to chataranga just made me flash the cameras with a cleavage I never realised I had…..Chris who was opposite me was in stitches as I fumbled around with my top endlessly. Breasticles out on Korean TV, I could blush just thinking about it. It’s due out in February, ooh er madam!!! It was a very good workout as always.

We went on one of our favourite bike rides into the mountains, it’s one of our favourite pastimes here and this one is only 20 minutes to the start of this area out of the city. Once you turn off the main road you are then into country roads and turning off these road into even smaller lanes and dirt tracks, all weaving in and out of valleys and foothills.

In the projects, the villagers are often from the Hill tribes called the Hmong and they grow a lot of the fruit and vegetables for the city and surrounding areas. You can smell oranges from the masses of orchards and that unmissable green smell of tomatoes, limes, papaya and mangos abound. There are lots of small villages off the beaten track, high in the mountains, its just beautiful.

We were lucky enough to see a few Elephants on the road with their mahouts and a very young elephant next to its mum. Aww, that’s what we like.

On this particular route is a huge white temple on a hill which we visit every year to check on its progress, they have been building it for at least 4 years.

It’s almost finished, maybe next year it will be done. It’s in a spectacular position up a very steep windy road. The workers live on site and are incredibly skilled. All the elephants and other statuary are built up piece by tiny piece, a very long drawn out job.

Next week we are flying to Mae Hong Son, which people compare to the Alps and it is right in the top left hand corner of Thailand next to the border of Myanmar. We are both looking forward to the trip. A new place to visit.

4 thoughts on “Escape to Chiang Mai

  1. Happy new year . Omg the new white temple left me gasping . Now it will be there for all time and you have seen it’s beginnings xx

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

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