Mindy and Ligeia began their day trip by walking to the main entrance of Chiang Mai University where you can catch a red bus up the mountain. When we arrived a Thai couple on vacation from Bangkok was already there. We only needed one more couple to make it worth the driver’s trip. After only a few minutes a couple from Beijing joined the group and for 150 Baht ($5) per person round trip, we began the switchbacks taking us 17 kilometers up the mountain. Our first stop was at the Phu Phing Palace, the Royal Winter Palace. Upon arriving Mindy was told she had to rent a pair of long pants (for only 15Baht – 50 cents) because shorts were not allowed:
The palace itself was not as elaborate as we had expected:
But the grounds were gorgeous, with fountains, flowers, beautifully kept lawns…
…and the largest bamboo we had ever seen! Can you believe it’s just grass?
After an hour at the palace, we returned Mindy’s rented pants, bought some fresh lychees (which are now in season) out of the back of a man’s truck – the transaction was entirely in Thai (we were so proud of ourselves) and headed for Doi Suthep, only 4 kilometers away.
After walking through a sea of vendors we finally got to the bottom of the staircase. We were to walk all the way up those stairs. Our expectations became greater and greater with every step.
When we arrived at the top we were not disappointed. It was clear that Doi Suthep was not only a tourist attraction with its sheer beauty and design…
…but also a very important place for Thais.
Many monks from locations throughout Thailand had made the trip.
It is said that this site was chosen by a Buddha relic mounted on the back of a white elephant that wandered until it finally lay down and died on the very spot that is now Doi Suthep. At the very top of the staircase there is a white elephant statue to commemorate its vital role in this story.
There are 3 main indigenous groups that live in Northern Thailand commonly referred to as the Hill Tribe people. The Karen is the largest group followed by the Hmong and the Akha. We’re not sure to which of the three these girls belong, making it clear that we need to learn more about the various Hill Tribes in our new area.
After about an hour of taking in the experience including the tourists, the shoes, the monks, the incense, the flowers, the bells, the cheesy trinkets for sale, the glimmer of all the gold, the view… it was time for us to head back down to look for red bus #22.
All in all it was a great day atop the mountain. Driving up and down we noticed an inviting dense jungle that we are very eager to explore. Hopefully soon we’ll be able to share some hikes with you.
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Mindy and Ligeia :):)