The moment I started climbing the mountains of Northern Thailand, the landscape around me transformed. It was a welcoming change from the plains. Chiang Mai is now a full blown city offering every facility and entertainment arena to the travellers as well as residents. The core of the city remains in the old quarter, built around a fort covered by a moat. This brings alive the seamless blend of the old and the new at Chiang Mai.
I stayed off the old quarter with Lucy, who is originally from the USA and is settled there since a decade. She gave me a good low down of the city and was truly a great host. It was a peaceful abode and I had one of the best mouth watering breakfasts during my stay. She was kind enough to lend her bike to go around the old quarter. I found the people more loving and caring than the ones in South of Thailand. Chiang Mai is one among the cost effective places in Thailand and offers all the facilities of a developing city.
I dedicated three days of my time within the old quarter and adjoining locales. This primarily included the visits to temples, buddhist monasteries, night markets and exploring street food. One of the highlights I came across was the idol of the Fasting Buddha. This emaciated statue represents Buddha at the end of his long fasting period, before he gained enlightenment. This unique statue gave me a new insight into the life of Buddha.
The biggest advantage I felt in Chiang Mai is the easy get away to the unspoiled northern ranges and the hidden valleys.
There are options to rent a bike and it’s a seamless process. You hand over your passport and have the option of picking the motor bike of your choice varying from 100 cc to 1200 cc.
I explored Samoeng Valley and did the loop back to Chiang Mai, enroute visiting Doi Suthep (one of the most revered temples in Chiang Mai). It is a 10 km ride up a hill and the view is breathtaking.
I did the most talked about loop, Chiang Mai – Pai – Mae Hong Son – Doi Inthanon ending back in Chiang Mai. It was a nice ride and if you are not an experienced rider, there is a big chance of overshooting sharp curves. It was a common sight seeing inexperienced riders falling off / crashing into barricades .
Pai had a completely different ambience, very bohemian in nature . I found more backpackers than locals and to my surprise the locals spoke good English which was a rarity in this part of the world. Another surprising fact that caught my attention was vendors selling vegetarian food. I ended up spending two days in Pai, met some amazing backpackers and chilled with them.
My next destination was Mai Hong Son which was another 150 kms from Pai, but took me a good 4 hours riding through the winding mountain roads, climbing steep inclines. Mai Hong Son is a quiet city tucked within the mountainous region, located very close to the Burma border. I had the opportunity to visit the Karen Long Neck tribe. The tribe has been living in this village located quite deep into the forest and was adjoining the Burma border. It’s a small village with maximum 15 families surviving from the sale of handicrafts and traditional wear.
The last leg of the loop was back to Chiang Mai, I took a detour through Doi Inthanon being the tallest point in Thailand. The ride was the highlight of my stay in Chiang Mai, I am sure to return back to explore more of this locales.
After spending a week in Istanbul, I was all geared up for the next phase of travel that is Europe, the first port of entry being Greece.
Crossing the border
Warrier's Trail is a crazy dream of a simple guy that was inspired by a desire to travel, meeting people, see places and live life full of uncertainty.
The dream is to travel 40 countries, in over 500 odd days in 5 regions (S.E.Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe & Africa)
A journey of exploration!