Doi Suthep & Doi Pui National Park – A Tour Guide’s Story
By Ms Natthika Roongruengwong (Bee)
In the morning I picked up my clients at the hotel. One of them was wearing rubber sandals. I advised him to change to good walking shoes. Fifteen minutes later we were en route to Doi Suthep mountain which overlooks Chiang Mai city. We made a stop at Kruba Sri Wichai, the shrine to the noble monk who, together with the residents of Chiang Mai, built the road up to the hill top temple.
On the way we saw many bicycle riders going up-hill, they must have a great condition as it is almost 12 km. From 300 meters up to 1,200 meters is not an easy ride – 900 metres of pain! No surprise, I prefer to stay in the car.
Once we arrived at the temple, we started walking up the stairs. We had to go all 306 steps. We arrived at the temple and I explained to our guests to take of their shoes. First we entered the main temple where we had to be quiet as two locals were in a meditation. There were no other foreigners, quite lucky for us, as it can be very busy in the early morning. Doi Suthep is a famous temple and it seems every guidebook mentions it.
I explained to our guests about the history of this temple. I elaborated on the story about the monk who built the temple. One night, he had a dream, telling him that he had to go with the relics of Lord Buddha by a White Elephant. At the place where the elephant made 3 rounds he should build a temple. And so it happened. Our guests were listening attentively.
We took some time to walk around the gold plated chedi and enjoyed the nice views down to Chiang Mai. Today was a clear day. We could almost see our hotel.
Now it was time to make a start walking the nature trail. It goes through a deciduous oak forest and mixed deciduous evergreen forest. I explain about the different forest types in the national park while we were on our way to the Forest Restoration Unit of Chiang Mai University (FORRU).
We visited the nursery together with a group of kids from Chiang Mai University who had a field trip to Doi Pui mountain. We left the nursery and went back to our minivan for a drive to a Hmong village. A small community settled on the top of Doi Pui, here you can still see a sample of opium growing in the garden. It is a great spot to spread the blankets for our picnic lunch: some fried chicken and sandwiches. The clients enjoyed talking with the locals and walking around the village.
After a hour we had to leave the village and said our goodbyes. On the way back to Chiang Mai, we made a stop at a waterfall. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take the trail down as it was too slippery. The Forest Department didn’t give permission. In other months it is possible though – but walkers need to be in good condition (and definitely no rubber sandals).
We went back to the hotel. I said goodbye to my clients who told me it was a great experience. They got a lot of new information about the hill tribes, the FORRU project and knowledge about plants, trees and wildlife.
A day on Doi Suthep Mountain close to nature is always a good day.
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Photo by: Imaji