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Forest Hiking in Chiang Mai: From Beginner to Wild Trails

  When I was planning what to write about this article, the city I was in was experiencing continuous rainy days. It was rare to be cool in the dog days. I liked the smell of rain falling on the ground and washing away the grass and trees, so I thought of the rainy days in the Qing Dynasty. Went on several forest walks in Mai.
  I was very nervous when I went to experience forest hiking for the first time. Local friends repeatedly emphasized that it was an elementary route and you would not get lost without a professional guide. Even a ten-year-old child would have no problem walking it. I couldn’t resist my friend’s persuasion, so we made an appointment to go hiking on Mount Suthep the next morning.
  The day before departure, it rained heavily in the afternoon and then cleared up in the evening. According to the weather forecast, there will still be a short period of heavy rain tomorrow, but this rain usually does not fall in the early morning, so we met at the cafe at the foot of the mountain at about 7 a.m. The morning cafe is like a resting camp for outdoor enthusiasts. Everyone has a cup of coffee or a simple breakfast here, and then embarks on different roads to hike or cycle.
  We entered the forest from the point marked “Watphalathike” on the map, and met many people who were also hiking at the intersection.
  This road is indeed not long, but because it requires climbing mountains, there are still several sections with steep slopes. Normally this would not be too difficult, but with the heavy rain yesterday, the ground in the city had already dried up, and the ground in the forest was already dry. The soil was still slippery. Except for the local, everyone in our group didn’t have much outdoor experience, so we all walked carefully on the forest trails that “are made of roads when there are more people walking on them.”
  The local friend said that one of his friends would come to meet us soon, but we did not have to wait for him, he could catch up with us. We looked back and forth at this rugged, narrow, steep and slippery mountaineering road, and we still had some doubts in our hearts. However, just when we were attracted by the flowers blooming on the tree trunks by the roadside, a local friend raised his chin towards the back of the team, beckoning us to look back. I saw two local people running towards us. Yes, they were running. They walked as fast as flying and walked on the ground. We were dumbfounded and surprised when we saw them.
  Two new locals arrived. One of them wore sneakers and the other only wore slippers. My friend explained that the person wearing slippers decided to hike with us on the spur of the moment. He didn’t have time to go home and change his shoes. It was no problem to wear slippers anyway. They Thais can wear slippers to go anywhere. Yes, a few years ago I saw locals on the top of the mountain who were wearing slippers and walking more steadily and faster than me wearing professional sneakers – practice makes perfect.
  There are two destinations on this route. The first is Pa La Temple. Even if you walk slowly and leisurely, half an hour or forty minutes is enough to get there. There is a small waterfall at the fork when arriving at Pala Temple. Before walking in the forest, the view was almost blocked by tall trees, but at the small waterfall, it suddenly opened up. You can overlook the city below the mountain, and you can also stand on the block between the streams. Standing on a large boulder, the stream at your feet was cold, and the wind from the mountains blew away, dissipating the layer of heat that had been suffocating in the forest.
  On the left side of the waterfall is a cave Buddhist niche with a row of white pillars. It looks a bit dilapidated up close, but from a distance, it is in perfect harmony with the surrounding forests, rock walls, and waterfalls. Crossing the stream, on the right side is the main building complex of Pala Temple. This is one of my favorite temples in Chiang Mai. When you come here, you can sit for a while in the two main halls of the temple. It is cool and peaceful. Outside the wooden windows in the hall are green vegetation and wet moss, and the mountain breeze passes through the windows. The fatigue from the previous hike is swept away, and you can move on to the next goal.
  The next destination is Shuanglong Temple. After climbing up for about an hour, you can reach Shuanglong Temple. The terrain here is higher. As you climb up the steps, the landscape in front of you will be wider. This is considered to be the completion of this beginner’s hiking route. Reward it. On the return trip, you can choose to return the same way, take a taxi or take a songthaew down the mountain. Because the dirt road was too slippery, we gave up and returned the same way. However, hailing a car in the mountains depends on luck, but using software to hail a motorcycle is easier. In the end, each of the group got a motorcycle, blowing the cool mountain breeze, and went down the mountain at lightning speed.
  Once you have a wonderful experience hiking in the forest for the first time, you will want to try it a second or third time.
  Among the many hikes that followed, the most impressive one was a hike in a wild forest deep in the mountains. It was the end of the rainy season. My friend and I decided to stay in the mountains for a few days and booked a cabin near the top of the mountain. We wanted to see the rolling mountains and feel the sea of ​​clouds in the morning and the glow in the evening. But this place is too remote. There is almost no signal on mobile phones, and the wifi in the room is sometimes good or bad. After enjoying the mountains, sea of ​​clouds, and cool breeze, we decided to participate in the high-end outdoor hiking activities organized by the host of the B&B.
  In addition to the local guide, the B&B owner, two Dutch girls, and a puppy raised by the B&B owner, we were hiking with us this time.
  Not long after leaving the village, we felt the “wildness” of this hiking route. In the hiking activities we participated in in the past, we could still see that there was a road under our feet, but this time, we could only follow the guide and walk in the forest with no roads. The trees around him were extremely lush, and there were many parasitic plants on them. The moist tree trunks and the ground were almost covered with various plants, and the forest was extremely quiet.
  The host and guide introduced us to the trees, flowers, and fungi that popped up from time to time on the road. They helped us pull away the vines above our heads and reminded us of the raised tree roots or sunken depressions under our feet. This was a very fresh experience. .
  At first we were all enveloped by this sense of freshness. Even though the journey was difficult, our hearts were still filled with joy and excitement. But gradually, dense and similar forests appeared on both sides. Coupled with the feeling of boredom and fatigue in the body, the fear and fear in the heart began to rise. At this moment, the Dutch girl who was at the end of the team screamed. The sound was not loud, but the forest was so quiet that the sound was even more abrupt and harsh. We were so frightened by the scream that we broke out in cold sweat. It was only after two locals checked the girl’s ankles that we found out what kind of insect had bitten her.
  The mysterious forest and the animals hidden in the forest are both unfamiliar and gradually scary to us, so forest hiking can only end in a hurry.
  This was a hiking activity that I could not complete, but it left a very deep impression on me. It turns out that my love for the forest, my love for trees and flowers, my longing for hiking on wild trails, etc. that I often talk about have some reasons. Ye Gong’s love for dragons stems from his ignorance and incompetence.
  Regarding the forest and forest hiking, it is true that we still have to take it step by step. From the novice route to the real wild trail, we can only slowly accumulate and gradually challenge it, otherwise it will only be a failure without success.