Day 20 : 10th October 2019
Some additional information on day 19 post:° I had added a video on ants moving on a tree. Thought it was ants and got corrected by one of the lecturers. It belonged to termite (shows how much knowledge deficiency I have) family and these avoid sunlight while moving. Seeing so many moving together gives you a strange feeling and I carefully avoided from stepping on it (actual reason is not to be bitten). . The Myanmar style pagodas in Mae Hong Son we visited has relics of an important monk after whom the Pagoda was built during 1864. The smaller one was built during 1875 by the first ruler of the Mae Hong son.°
The hens seem to be the tribal symbols, we saw one large hen on the entry gate to a tribal hill too in Myanmar. So the tribals worshipped nature and it so syncs with Indian culture.Our host told that we are going to see lots of things on our way and the ride wouldn’t be that long. So we started our day late (had some minor issues with the bike and got that corrected as well) and headed towards Doi Inthanon. We were supposed to use this place for our day 19 night halt and we couldn’t do it. Would have loved to stay here for a night. It was complete ascend to the top of Doi Inthanon and you cannot go beyond the 2nd gear.
Could smell the engine burning the oil more than usual but our leader comforted us saying “it’s normal and not to be worried about”. The temperature went down drastically as we climbed further and we reached the site of 2 pagodas. One for the king (bhagwan Buddha in sitting posture) and one for the queen (standing posture) built by Thai Air force to commemorate some events. From the base, you have steps or use escalator to go to the top. It was cold and I didn’t remove my riding jacket and used the escalator.
Nothing spectacular about the pagodas except being built on top of an hill and the views on a non-cloudy day could be breathtaking. Couldn’t see anything beyond 50 meters and we were surrounded by moving clouds. Well designed place to spend some good time and they have restaurants and coffee shops for a quick refreshment. We moved to the “Roof of Thailand”. Doi Inthanon was formed when the Indian sub continent collided with Asia some 60 million years ago and the highest peak in Thailand. 2565 meters above the sea level and it was around 15° at 12 noon(felt much colder).
Saw a board with 7° recorded at 6 am and still repenting about our missed night stay in such lovely place. It’s part of the Doi Inthanon national park and completely dense with trees, plants and bushes. Khun Tom told that the park hosts some unique birds which cannot be seen anywhere in the world and I saw some colourful sparrow (he corrected me that it is not sparrow and told me a different name which I don’t remember now). Super cold environment with clouds above you (felt like 5 pm on a rainy day in Mumbai) and saw many people doing the forest trails. Add Doi Inthanon to your Thailand itinerary and do spend couple of nights to do the trail, enjoy the cold weather (apparently it remains the same throughout the year) and visit various places and that includes national space observatory. It’s time to move to the the next destination called “Watchirathan Water falls” and we carefully maneuvered the steep curvy or straight descent (it started raining as well and the roads can be little tricky and slippery).
What should have taken 30 minutes to reach took more than an hour for us. I am fine with the timing as long as we all reach the destination safely. Wachirathan waterfalls was ferocious and large. You got to see many waterfalls along the way and this one is the 2nd major waterfall in Doi Inthanon. Nobody was allowed to go near the falls and swimming is banned because of the water force. We were standing 50-80 meters away but still the spraying water made us completely wet. Another place where you can spend the entire day looking at the falls and living in natural environment. Khun Tom made us eat bamboo shoots and I loved it. We settled ourselves at a restaurant and finished our lunch (one of the best Papaya salad I have ever had). It was around 2 pm. And we started moving to the next destination. It’s a remote village where you can try bamboo rafting and play with Elephants. Didn’t want to remove my riding gears (wet and smelly) and I watched others enjoying the raft ride. It was not bad like the himalayan white water rafting but still an adventurous activity (bamboo goes inside the water because of the weight it carries).
I spent the time watching the elephants (one little one tried his or her best to get rid of the chain) and enjoyed the way they eat the food. Grabbing the entire grass bunch using the trunk and slowly rip it to eat and I could hear the munching sound. The rafting guys came back on a truck and started feeding the Elephants with bananas and sugarcane pieces. The little naughty one took 3 pieces while the other one was content to take one piece at a time. Some of us went into the water and made those Elephants take shower and it was fun.
Done for the day and we started our ride to “Chiang Mai”. What could have been a two hour ride from Chiang Rai, we took more than 2 days but it’s worth. Conquering Mae Hong Son loop, Visiting Doi Inthanon couldn’t have been done if we had taken the straight route. As mentioned earlier, it was not great riding day (less than 180 kms) but could be one of the toughest riding day in this trip. That’s because of the really deep descent riding on wet roads and body gave the indications of the required rest. You are seeing this post slightly delayed because I slept for the longest time in the last 20 days. Closer to our destination but still looks long.
Note : ° Those who are reading my travelogue using “Incredible India by Road – 2018 Facebook page”, please check out my Instagram or Facebook personal profile for videos. ° Wi-Fi speed is not great and I am not sending lots of videos and pictures. Will start a YouTube channel later and add the unseen ones to it.