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Two weeks ago life was all about working, last week it was all about play.
Whit came home from school on Wednesday with a note that school was canceled for the rest of the week due to an outbreak of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. We appreciate that the Thai government requires the closure of a school for deep cleaning after a certain percentage of students gets sick, but it didn’t give us much time to figure out how to spend our 4-day weekend.
Instead of planning an overnight excursion out of town we chose to do some of the outdoor things around Chiang Mai we haven’t had time for due to Whit’s long school schedule. Blessing in disguise, you know?
We started on Thursday with a day trip to Thailand’s largest mountain, Doi Inthanon. It took 2 hours and $30 (foreigner tax) to enter Doi Inthanon National Park, and we aren’t even sure it was worth it.
I’ve been bitten by the hiking bug since our unexpectedly successful multi-day trek in Nepal and was excited for a similar experience in Thailand. There is a hike to the peak of Doi Inthanon, but there’s also a well-maintained road. Ben thinks it’s a waste of time to hike where you can drive, so we pulled right up to the peak of the mountain. What we found was a sign marking the highest elevation in Thailand surrounded by trees. That’s right, there were no vista views. What a waste.
Apparently the main reason people visit Doi Inthanon is to see the Buddhist wats built on the side of the mountain. We paid another $1.25/ person to walk up to the wats, which really were stunning. I truly love visiting Buddhist temples. They are so beautifully built that I see not only a religious site but an art museum. Whit and I had a long talk about what Buddhists believe and the incredible art techniques we found around the temples, which is one of the things I love most about travelling with him.
We planned a day in advance to go on a canopy tour on Friday with Flight of the Gibbon, one of Chiang Mai’s most popular zip lining companies. Zip lining is Whit’s single favorite thing to do so we always seek out opportunities to go. This was his fifth country zip lining in! Each tour is unique, and what we loved about Flight of the Gibbon was that it included two rappels in addition to 14 zips. I was a little nervous to be attached to a rope on my back and dropped down a few stories, but Whit had a huge smile on the entire time. That adorable adrenaline junkie isn’t afraid of anything!
Our tour group was only 6 people, so we had a chance to get to know the other people flying with us. Two of the others were a couple from Ireland who told us they are on a one-month tour through Thailand. When we asked why they chose Thailand they told us it’s because Thailand is quite popular in Ireland. They were given lots of advice on their trip from many friends who had already been. Who knew?
We joined another small family on a hike up Chiang Mai’s local mountain, Doi Suthep, on Saturday. We only made plans to join them the night before, which didn’t give us much time to research or prepare for the hike. Note to self: Never go on a hike you haven’t researched!
I was eager to test my limits on another hike, but excitement will only get you so far in life. With only half a bottle of water to make it on a 4 mile hike on one of the most humid days of the season I soon realized I was out of my element. I had new respect for how easy the humidity-free “hike” of stone stairs in Nepal had been as I tried not to continually ask our friends how much further we had until the summit. I’m embarrassed to say that I finished dead last in a group that included a woman who is 7 months pregnant, a man carrying a 3-year-old in a backpack, and a 6-year old in water shoes.
The hike covered almost 2,000 feet in elevation and took us 2 hours to finish. Once we reached the peak, another beautiful Buddhist temple, I was too exhausted to do anything but sit on a bench while the other explored. At least there was a coffee stand where I could get a big cup of iced chocolate milk. Boy, was that a good drink.
Our friends hesitantly suggested we ride in one of the popular open air truck taxis to take us back down the mountain, and we were not too proud to agree. I actually think I would have been ok to hike down (it’s easier than up, right?), but Whit flat out refused to hike another step. I can’t blame the poor guy- none of us knew how difficult the hike would be and he had absolutely no say in it.
I guess he does have limits.
Couple all our excursions with the fact that Whit decided not to spend any full night in his own room.
And he does not sleep soundly.
Oh man…. I am so tired!