I went in search of Doi Suthep as I hadn’t seen it for a couple of days. (A view from Canal & Royal Flora of Doi Suthep.)
I also found Doi Pui and a whole new aspect to the mountain that I hadn’t appreciated before.
Starting out at Huay Tung Tao on the 121 Canal Road, I took to left turning into the park area and got an update on the development just inside the exercise area car park. This monument to Phra Jao Lanna is being developed by Arjan Warin & his previous students, together with the 3rd local Army base. The 5km bike / walking / jogging path is still there though and so too the cafe.
Further on in towards the lake, I pay my 20 baht entrance fee and ride to the Buddha statues over on the far left side of the lake.
After a quick stop and a chat with the new puppies there I continued along the road to the northern tip of the lake where there is a small hut with a barrier and a quizzical faced guy perched in the hut. I turned left & through his barrier and onto a sandy track which led me to the Army Zone sign to my right and by staying on the original track, eventually to a Doi Suthep – Doi Pui Information Kiosk.
Straight on through and up into the forest and I just kept going up and up.
At the first fork in the track I took the left and as I did, a cabbage 4×4 trundled down the other track. This route I am sure must link with the track I will ride up to and join at the top. But that is for another day.
Having taken the left fork, I thank myself for doing so.This forest is beautiful. The place is teaming with bird calls and at times the Laughing Thrushes are literally over my head chattering their songs. The track is narrow and varied in make up but it is very rideable on 2 wheels.
This track comes out into what seemed to be somebody’s garden. An orchard of Lamyai, Banana and Mango with a feeling of tranquillity that made me keep stopping and just take stock of where I was. I was over awed by the relaxing air, the beauty of the surroundings and above all, the feeling solitude. At this point, I am about a third of the way up to the top.
After a while I come to a larger track with no signs of direction other than right is downwards & left goes up. I go left.
I continue a little way further and find another fork in the track which is marked with a sign telling me the way I had come is to Chiang Mai & Mae Rim and if I were to turn onto this road and right, it would go to ‘Site B’. (Note to self – Where is Site A & C?)
The larger track I was now exiting I feel sure is the one taken by the cabbage 4×4 earlier.
I turn left and upwards and soon came across 3 elderly ladies marching up the mountain. After the embarrassing routine of them showing signs of begging with hands held out and indicating they needed food, I got out of their way and left them taking a short cut up a steep bank.
Now the track opens onto a junction with a village entrance upwards and a road to the right going down.
The village is Ban Khun Chan Keang (or as a later sign says ‘Khun Chan Kian Mong Village’) with Srinehru School at the end of the road.
As I rode through, the villagers looked prepared with anticipation. Several corners of houses had benches laid out with cloth covering goodies from the dust. – They were waiting for the tourists!
I retraced my path down to the village entrance and dodged a falling branch, being cut as I passed by a guy who said the big wind yesterday blew the tree over the entrance archway. (Well not those exact words but that what he meant!)
So down the road and by now the surface is quite wide and very firm impacted mud and I reach the coffee shop where I meet a French family who are literally desperate to understand how to say ‘hello’ in Thai and I enjoy Mama & a fresh brewed coffee.
I continued on to where I knew there was a place called ‘Doi Pui Camp Ground’ and from where I had driven a 4×4 to the coffee shop in October 2005. I remember at that time, I was tossed from side to side on a deep trenched sticky muddy track but today, it is solid and under the dust, I think it may well be tarmac!
The camping area is just as it was the last time I was here, clean & empty.
A little further reached the junction with a tree in the middle and a deserted control post guard hut shelter. Whilst I stopped to take a happy snap, a Thai minibus tour driver asked me if the road was ok for his bus to travel to the village. This had been the only traffic I had seen since the 4×4 cabbage truck, the 3 old lady trekkers, the desperate French family and some cyclists. A very quiet route. A few minutes later on my way further down the mountain, he sped past me and obviously got nervous at the sight of the ‘beware 2 lane road’ signs that littered most corners on the road to the camp & coffee shop.
The road from here down to the next junction is in an awful mess. Currently it is being … repaired? well, lets just say the equipment to repair the road is available and some pot holes have been filled. I took a rest at the viewpoint here and looked at the village below.
At the busy with signposts junction I initially turn right & down to the ‘Hmong DoiPui Village’ or ‘Ban Mong’ as another sign reads, that I had just seen from the viewpoint. Again the road is a mess but no work has started on it yet. It is a busy road with buses up & down, packed with tourists. At the village itself the car park is bustling with dumps & pickups of tourists and the many shops are showing their wares for what appears to be very cheap prices.
I walk to the Doi Pui Waterfall Garden. There is an air of a fairground attraction here with crossbow target practice on ripe fruit for 20 baht for 3 arrows and a lady practicing her gurning with an outstretched empty begging bowl.
Retracing my journey back to the busy signpost junction and continued down towards Bhubing Palace and again a very busy tourist scene which was again repeated at the entrance area of Wat Doi Suthep.
After that it was all down hill !
At the 7-11 near the junction with the 121 Canal Road, I stopped to say hello to an old friend, Sua Suay. He lives here under a vendors cart and today I was pleased to see he had a companion. He was just as fat as when I dropped him back home here in December 2006 after spending a couple of months at the Care for Dogs shelter in Hang Dong.