Doi Intahnon is the tallest mountain in Thailand. It’s known as “the roof of Thailand,” and it’s only about 2 hours outside Chiang Mai.
Luckily Nina has a car, which makes short trips like this a piece of cake. Well…almost. It’s an old car and it works so hard to carry us all over town. Driving up the tallest mountain in Thailand would take a lot out of any car. We are really, truly amazed that we actually made it to the top of the mountain, and all the way back to Chiang Mai, and the car is still alive. It was a close call though. There was a second there where the car almost stalled on the way up, and the engine was smoking a bit when we stopped at the top. Then on the way home we were smoking a bit again. A very nice man at a roadside restaurant cooled down the car with his hose. And probably laughed at us a bit in Thai.
The mountain is part of Doi Inthanon National Park. On the road to the summit there are 2 chedis, or pagodas. They were built to honor the king and queen on their 60th birthdays. The queen’s is purple. There is a huge purple pagoda on top of the tallest mountain in Thailand. I LOVE it. The view from there is absolutely amazing. You can see forever. There are more shades of green than I ever thought possible.
Here is my favorite thing about climbing to the tops of things: the light. You can see the light peak through the clouds and make shapes on the land. You can watch the light change as the clouds move. Once, when I went to the top of Doi Suthep, I saw rain falling in the distance. When you are standing in the rain it seems to go on forever. Rarely can you see the edge of the rain cloud, where the rain stops and the sun starts. When you are on top of a mountain, the rain cloud is an isolated event, and you can see the sunshine all around it.
For a surprisingly reasonable fee you can pitch a tent and spend the night in the park. So that is what we did. I think it cost just $10 per person for a tent, sleeping bag, mattress, and pillow. I still remember how to pitch a tent! We played cards, drank boxed wine, and made faces at a little girl at a roadside restaurant.
In the morning we closed up our tent and went in search of waterfalls. Thailand has no shortage of waterfalls. Rather than doing a traditional hike, we decided to explore a few waterfalls on our way back down the mountain. The car was grateful I think. The first waterfall we stopped at was pretty packed. For good reason though, it’s beautiful. What is it about waterfalls? They are literally just a place where water falls on its way down from a mountain. Yet, they are always stunning, always popular. The second one we stopped at had a sign saying it was the most popular waterfall in the park. We were pretty much the only ones there.
I love how easy it is to get out of the city and find nature (if you have transportation). The jungle is as close to Chiang Mai, as my parents’ house from Manhattan. It’s pretty great.