Doi Ithanon in good company
Somehow, National Parks will probably remain at the top of our list. We had the opportunity to spend the day in another one, Doi Ithanon, this past week and it was, once again, an amazing day topped off by the fact that we met some wonderful people.
Even though Chiang Mai is filled with tourist information booths at every corner that will book for you whatever tour you feel like taking, we still haven’t felt confident enough to use their services...not that we don’t trust them, it’s mainly us the problem... having four kids in tow makes every day pretty unpredictable so planning too far ahead might end up just being bad planning after all!
So, even though we knew the ride to get to that particular park was about 1:30 and would probably entail that we hirer a driver and taxi, or rather pick up truck, we left our house at around 8:30 that morning with neither.
We walked a few blocks to the corner of our street where there is a little more activity going on and sure enough a red truck stopped to ask us where we were heading. Jeremie has gotten pretty good at communicating with the drivers, and uses his google map to show them wherever we want to go.
For some reason, even though we might be close enough to wherever we want to go, if the driver doesn’t know the place(or in my opinion, if he prefers to take a nap... ;p) he just refuses to take us! Luckily for us, that wasn’t the case with this one!
We negotiated a price that seemed decent enough, then hopped in the back of the truck. He took us to his friend, another truck driver, we made the switch from one ride to the other and just like that, were set for the day!
We drove out of town. The scenery slowly switched from buildings to greenery and fields. We entered the park about 1:30 later, paid the entrance fee and then started the drive up to the summit which is the highest point in Thailand. This park, also known as “The Roof of Thailand”, is part of the Himalayan mountain range with elevations ranging between 800 and 2565 meters.
The drive to the summit must have been close to another half-hour. I had read to expect the temperature at the top to be quite cooler than what we were used to down in the city. Good thing I had listened to the internet and not to my very charming husband who kept reminding me that “we are Canadians after all and that what other people were calling “cool” was probably just a light breeze for us” after all that I still had packed us jackets!
By the time we got to the summit, the kids had eaten all the cold left-over pizza I had packed for lunch and Norah had even taken a short nap...
And we were soooo cold!!!! Rolling up a mountain without windows or doors for that matter, climbing meters after meters of elevation turns out to be pretty chilly! We begged Jeremie to go through our big back pack to take our pullovers out so we could try to warm up!
Our driver dropped us off at the entrance of a short hiking trail which we started exploring right away! This particular park has been known for its many sightings of birds and we spotted a few as soon as we entered the forest!
We sped walked, trying to warm up till we reached a sign indicating the weather at the summit which was 5 degrees Celcius... no wonder we were freezing!!!!
We spotted a little coffee shop near the restrooms and never had been so happy to order coffee and hot chocolates! We tried finding a table in the sun where we could possibly warm up while sipping our drinks and then explore a bit more...
A boy showed up in front of our table sporting the biggest grin and was just standing there when I dared ask him if we had met before. He said he had played freeze-tag with Finn a few nights earlier at the night market. There was so many kids crammed in that small corner of the market that night that apart from keeping an eye on my own four I hadn’t noticed the other kids!
His brother joined us, and then his parents. We started talking. They’re from Connecticut and have been circumnavigating the globe for the past few months..they have been to Europe, Africa and are now in Asia!
Our kids automatically started calling them “our friends” and we felt like we had so much to talk about so we decided to drive down to another point in the mountain where we could go for a 2.8 kilometre hike together.
We hiked, we talked, the kids played while sharing stories of adventures they had been on, or books we had read that they too had read aloud as a family! We bonded and it was just the kind of sharing that happens organically with old friends.
We stopped for the camera a few times, trying to capture the amazing views we were privy to(and because the Dad is a professional photographer).
We had to hire a guide for this particular hike, the poor woman must have wished she would have chosen a group with a little less talking and a little more walking!
When we first entered the forest, we all gathered around the first sign showing trees that were growing in this particular area... we all sat on the small benches gathered on the side of the trail waiting for our guide to explain what we were seeing when we soon realized that she was a “walking guide, not a talking guide”! We picked ourselves up and continued on!
As we were nearing the end of the hike, she even offered to wear Jeremie’s back pack so he could carry Keilan in his arms so we could gain some speed! I thought we were doing good time considering we had 6 children in tow!!!!
We said goodbye to our new friends as we parted ways at the end of this beautiful hike! We grabbed corn on the cob for the kids who were complaining they were sooooo hungry!
And then started our drive back down stopping to see the iconic golden pagodas with their beautiful gardens and then the Wachirathan waterfall.
I guess most people had gone back to
wherever they had came from to visit this beautiful park, for as we slowly walked through the gardens and then the waterfall, there were but only a few other people left!
We made it back home just a little before 7... we even got to see the sunset through the back of our pick up truck! It was a good day!