Back to Chiang Mai we went and into two incredible days of interesting places and exhilarating experiences. Our first full day back in Chiang Mai we rented another bike and went to take in a couple more of the more scenic temple sites up into Doi Suthep National Park. By this point I had thoroughly had enough of temples and being told off for wearing shoes anywhere in the vicinity of a temple. Soph was still enjoying herself (I think) so I maintained face, kind of.
After templing we went off to a really nice spot called the Grand Canyon. Basically a man made canyon area, which had been filled with water with nice spots for cliff jumping, wallowing, sunbathing, etc. etc. at only 50 Baht (£1.20) entry it wasn’t too bad at all.
The next day was the day I had been looking forward to the most. We had booked ourselves onto a jungle trekking & mountain biking trip with Chiang Mai Mountain Biking. Two great things rolled into one day. With none of the Hill Tribe immersion experiences or any other pretentious bullshit to fill itinerary holes, it had the makings of a great day. Taking a track up towards the summit of Doi Pui (in an area of Doi Suthep National Park), we reached peak No. 2 of our trip so far – granted we did not actually hike from bottom to top to reach either, but it still felt like a mighty fine achievement. From the peak we headed deeper into the less trodden paths and followed a steep and pretty sketchy ridge down through the jungle to meet “the guy” with our mountain bikes.
Having done a bit of downhill mountain biking before, I was very keen for this part of the day – a 2 hour ride down to the beautiful Hung Tung Tao Lake. Aside from a few hairy moments where I had just quite simply got way too giddy and big for my boots and almost stacked it, all appeared to be going swimmingly. That was until Soph decided to play in the sand… For anyone who has been on any kind of bicycle or motorcycle before; downhill slopes, plus sand, plus braking, equals catastrophe. Soph found this out in the form of a rather emphatic face plant which left her a little dazed, confused, shocked and in a bit of pain with a few bruises here and there, as well as a nasty wound on her left shoulder. I did not see the exact moment, but turned to see a very confused Soph, covered in sand, in a heap, staring blankly at her bike.
Nevertheless, she trooped on – after a bit of encouragement – albeit slower and much more carefully. I can’t blame her, I had almost hit the deck in exactly the same sandy patch only moments before, and so was also taking thinks a touch more gingerly myself. A great day out if you ask me, and Soph was inclined to agree in spite of her being battered and bruised, but fear not, I used my complete lack of medical knowledge to patch her up once we returned to our hotel – just call me Dr. Wander… hmmm… or not!
So two further days of fun in Chiang Mai complete, today we got on a bus to Pai – a small town a bout 3 hours to the northwest of Chiang Mai – driven by a rather impatient driver, who in true Thai fashion treated some extremely curvaceous mountain roads with a real don’t-give-a-fuck attitude, but he got us here! Kudos to the man, he persisted with his driving style even after driving past an up-turned lorry who had clearly also been incorporating the same style.