A couple weeks ago, we took a trip two hours from Chiang Mai to Doi (Mountain) Inthanon, the highest point in Thailand.
It was fantastic. The elevation provided a refreshing and welcome retreat from the Thai heat. It’s remote location removed us from the bustle and noises of the busy city and instead surrounded us with cool breezes, the crashing sounds of waterfalls and happily chirping birds, and greenery everywhere you looked.
We then found out that Doi Inthanon is at the very Southeastern edge of the Himalayan mountain range and the geology nerd in me freaked out because, you guys, I was in the Himalayas without even knowing it.
We drove to the summit, took the 20 minute ‘nature trail’, and then visited the park’s two statuesque and stately Chedis. These temples aren’t inherently religious, as they were built in 1987 (in honor of the King’s 60th birthday) and 1992 (In honor of the Queen’s 60th birthday). Despite them not being monastic, they still feature Buddhist shrines and murals that were massive and surreal to stand below looking up at.
When I first envisioned Buddhist Thailand, this is what came to mind. Temples tucked into green mountains with nothing but the sounds of sweeping air and the floating clouds close overhead to keep you company. It’s nice to know my first impressions weren’t totally misguided.
After exploring the two Chedis and the beautiful flower gardens around the grounds, we had lunch at the Royal Project site in the park. The project, started by the queen, provides Hill Tribes alternative agriculture opportunities in order to persuade them to stop growing opium. I saw my first coffee bush (and sneakily picked a cherry, because you guys, coffee), ate duck rubbed in a coffee marinade (not that good), and strolled in incredibly manicured gardens complete with black swans, carnivorous plants, and fern houses.
We finished the day with a stop at the enormous Watchirathan waterfall. Mesmerizing and misty.
It was a wonderful day trip and everything we saw was intensely beautiful.
All photo credit goes to Marion Holes because this dummy forgot her camera an also Marion has skills.