A Bit of TLC Part 8 - Completing the Loop

Mae Sariang and Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand  December 2023

Wooden it be nice…?

Breaking up our long drive to Mae Sariang the following day, we had hoped to view the vast fields of Mexican sunflowers.  But after driving for miles up the mountainside, found we had missed out and they’d just finished blooming…typical!  Our lodgings were in a traditional teak house overlooking the river Yuam, and sounded wonderful.  In practice however, although we had a great view from our balcony, we found that a wooden house can be very noisy.  Lugging our bags up two very creaky staircases was no fun, and to make matters worse, the walls seemed to be paper thin.  We’re not sure what our neighbour was getting up to with a young lady in the room next door, but she certainly seemed to be driving a hard bargain!

Down by the riverside

A consolation was discovering a nice little bar a few doors down, run by a Brit called Stuart!  The town itself didn’t really offer much of interest, but it was a short break from our journey, and I enjoyed a few hours the following day relaxing by the riverside pool. Had a nice evening back in the bar comparing notes with a group of young Brits and some Aussies, all doing the same as us and avoiding the winter back home!

Not a bad spot to while away an hour or so

On Top of the World

Feeling a bit worse for wear the next day, Ian took the curves a bit easier for me, as we made our way back towards Chiang Mai.  We passed by amusingly named towns such as “Pong”, “Song” and “Hot” – Ian was disappointed that it didn’t have a “Hot Women’s Institute”!  We’d decided to stop off to visit the Doi Inthanon National Park and settled in to our small guesthouse in Ban Luang. This was definitely off the tourist track, and we had to make use of Google translate for dinner that evening.  On the way a friendly old lady with her grandchild stopped on her scooter to chat to us and Ian was a bit worried she was going to offer us a lift!  In town, there seemed to be some sort of fair going on with singing, dancing and lots of food stalls.  The Thais do like to party it seems…but it was nice to see a part of “real” Thailand.

A chilly start

The National Park was a 40-minute drive away and we set off the following morning along the curvy road lined with small villages, waterfalls and lots of huge poinsettia bushes. Our first stop was the Kew Mae Pan trail – a 3-mile-long circular hike through sub-Alpine meadows and mossy cloud forest.  Annoyingly we were obliged once again to employ a guide (at an additional fee) who simply followed us around on the pre-text of ensuring we didn’t get lost!  The path was clearly marked and consisted of a boardwalk for most of the circuit, so I figured it was another money generating scheme.  The temperature was a cool 15 degrees as we set off and I was glad I’d brought my fleece.  In fact, the morning after we were there, the locals were excited to discover frost in parts of the forest!

Pathway to eternity…

Doi Inthanon Mountain was the highest point in Thailand, and I was surprised to learn that it formed part of the Himalayas!  At last, I can say I’ve trekked this famous mountain range…  The forest made way to grassy meadows with amazing views.  The slopes were often shrouded by clouds at dawn, but as we are definitely not “early risers” these days, we had to make do with admiring the photos.

What we’d have seen if the alarm had gone off!

Due to the number of people walking the circuit, we didn’t see much wildlife, except for a few interesting songbirds, some only found in this area including the vibrant green-tailed sunbird. The path offered a good view of the surrounding valleys and also the twin pagodas of the nearby temple and were fringed with colourful rhododendrons.

Green-tailed sunbird

Continuing on up the mountain, we found another small walk, the Ang Ka Nature Trail, where a mossy board walk weaves through the swamp.  It was all very “Lord of the Rings” and we expected to see Gandolf appear from behind a tree at any time!  We eventually made it to the summit, along with hundreds of other people and tour vans – but it was satisfying to say that we had been to the highest point in Thailand.

On top of the world!

A slight diversion on the last leg of the loop took us to the Phar Chor Canyon which was formed by an ancient river. It was no “Grand Canyon”, but the stunning orange rock formations made for an interesting short hike, the cliffs forming strange “roman columns”.

Those Romans got everywhere!

Back in Chiang Mai for the night, we were surprised and slightly disconcerted at the amount of Christmas decorations that had appeared! I guess the Thais are beginning to embrace the commercial and emotional concept of Christmas as much as we do…sigh…

View from our balcony – there’s just no getting away from it!

Next stop: Heading north for Christmas

More photos!…

What the sunflower fields should have looked like!
On the edge
The lonely goat herd
Going with the flow
Twin peaks
The mossy forest
Skeleton fern
Death's Head Hawk Wing moth (sounds like a heavy metal band!)
The (not so) Grand Canyon

15 thoughts on “A Bit of T L C – Part 8 – Completing the Loop”

  1. Lovely as always to read about your travels. Informative interesting and inspirational. I so admire you both.
    Have a great Christmas take care lots of love xx

  2. Oh my, I went and looked up another picture of the green tailed sunbird. It’s incredibly beautiful!!! I’d say it most resembles a painted bunting here in the states.
    Merry Christmas, Kathy, and I look forward to your next adventures…love the added pictures, always. 🎄

  3. No stone left unturned! You are by far the most well-travelled person I know! Shame you missed the sunflowers but at least you must’ve had extra good quality air in the mossy forest. Have a great festive season and we look forward to seeing you in 2024 xxx

  4. So glad you are enjoying your extended holiday and discovering so many interesting places. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you both ! Lots of Love Noreen & Patsy xx

  5. Loving your posts Kathy – you should be a writer! It sounds like a very interesting trip so far! Wishing you and Ian a peaceful and Happy Christmas and New Year and look forward to the next installment!


    Lisa xx

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