Different to the previous day, when the sun was heating the whole city of Chiang Mai in 35 Degrees of Celsius (by feeling around 40), for Saturday 29 September the forecast speaks about rain. This is not really matching my plans, since after yesterday’s tour around the city’s temples (Chiang Mai is the city with the most temples Thailand’s), I would like to hike the Monk’s trail. This is a hike located in the national park Doi Suthep, which begins just at the periphery of the city. Early morning is clear thus I go for a short 9km run before the day really starts. For the first time in Asia I almost shit myself while running, the constant problem of my early runs. It got better when I run without breakfast, but… Happily, there is a public toilet in the only one public park in the city. After 15 minutes of the fight with flush (guess they are not used to our level of “amount” over here), I manage and can continue with my run. After the training I stop by at the local fresh market and buy some fruits for the breakfast and a nice juicy coconut for almost free. Having a small rest and a nice breakfast in one of the coffees, I take a red-car and drive to the national park. I am afraid I won’t run away from rain today, well, at least I will try the new raincoat I bought back in Prague. In Doi Suthep I would like to hike the Monk’s hike, a hike of few kilometres through the real jungle, which used to be used in past by the monks walking up to the temple Wat Phrathat. The hike starts at the end of the Suthep Alley road but the red car drives me a few meters farther. One kilometer on the road, passing around the back entrance of the ZOO, there it is, the entrance to the forest which is the same time the beginning of the trail. It’s hard to get lost, the hike is well marked with the orange cloth, a colour of the monk’s garment.
Approximately after the first 2 kilometres on the low- and medium level hike I am arriving at the non-commercial and not so much visited complex Wat Pha Lat. The real oasis of the peace, I will rest here, relax and mediate in the relax room on the border with the jungle. The view of Chiang Mai from this place is magic, an unforgettable moment of harmony and relax. I will also wait until the rain stop, which started just when I arrived at the complex. After leaving Wat Pha Lat I have to walk few meters on the main road for lazy tourists, which gives a scenic view after rain too.
Turning right back to the jungle, I am back at the trail. The real fun starts here, at some places the terrain is turning into a challenge, more than I expected. I am sweating like hell, it’s becoming my Asian classic. Whatever I do, I am not able to exist here without sweating like a pig. The terrain turned meanwhile into unhospitable but beautiful piece of land. The best on it, I hardly meet anyone, since I left the main road I met two people, trail runners. At the end the hike brings me into a wild jungle, I am about to shit myself from every noise I hear. Asia is not the same as your nice family hike in Europe, where your biggest enemy is the small tick. Here you can meet cobras, pythons, spiders, scorpions… and the most dangerous of all is the mosquito who can infect you with malaria, or in the better case “only” with the dengue fever. Once again, I arrive at the main road, one more hill and I am in the finish. I have to choose between the main road or staying besides and passing through a secret gate. GPS tells me the gate should work too so the gate it is. After 300 meters on a road full of slick moss, it turns into the jungle again. The GPS sees a hike where there is none and since my name is not Chuck Norris, I decide to return, being very careful to not kill myself on the moss once again. Only later I can read in a different map that this has been an area with dangerous wild dogs. Well, didn’t see a single one…
Few more meters and I arrive at the temple Wat Phrathat, where I am meeting a lot of tourists again, but none of them stinky and sweaty at every part of their body, it’s only me. Yes, HR Director style, I must laugh. I walk around the temple and chose the red-car for the return journey. As he is driving down the hill like crazy, the first time in Thailand I am cold – just because I am still sweating and everybody who used this transportation already knows, that this is an open van. The hike was worth every drop.
If you plan visiting Chiang Mai and in a case, you decide to run away from the noise of the city, the Monk’s hike is exactly what you should do. You can make it up to the end of the hike in a relatively short time and if you chose a day where the forecast is set on rain, you might not even meet a lot of people.