Cave, monastery, waterfalls, hot springs, and some incredible scenery and food.
We left Bangkok for what seems like another world! We flew Thai Airways to Chiang Mai. What a great airline. The kids were happy to have familiar Subway sandwiches in the airport.
The flight was fast and uneventful. There was an oddly delicious spinach and cheese wrap served on the short flight. Once we arrived in Chiang Mai, we had a van ready to take us another 90 minutes north to the tiny village of Chiang Dao. The lush green landscape is phenomenal! The mountains surrounding the area are beautiful.
We arrived at our cute little bungalow called Chiang Dao Nest. The bungalow really isn’t so little. There are two bedrooms, two bathrooms, three AC units, and large common area with satellite TV and a fridge. We’re not really roughing it here.
We had a yummy Thai dinner at the Nest after our long but relaxing journey. We especially liked watching the many geckos on the walls and ceilings of the open-air restaurant. One large lizard seems to like hanging out on the porch ceiling of our bungalow. The cicadas are piercingly loud at times! There are dogs and cats roaming everywhere. Most seemed friendly although we tried to keep our distance just in case.
On our first full day, we rented bicycles at the nearby bar. They didn’t have a child-size bike available for DD#2 so she had to ride on dad’s handlebars for a while. The very kind owner of the bar texted DH and said she bought a new child-sized bike. A brand new one! Everyone has been quite accommodating. We had a huge breakfast at one of the nest’s restaurants. One serves western food and the other serves Thai food. We were treated royally and were ready for our day!
We biked and then hiked up 510 steps to the most picturesque monastery/wat. Gorgeous! The many inspirational signs along the way helped power us to the top in the heat.
We decided to bike back to cool off and regroup. Our place is pretty cozy for hanging out. After a long break, we biked down to the famous Chiang Dao Cave. Caves hold religious meaning for Buddhists so the area surrounding the caves had many monuments.
We bought our tickets to the cave and hired a guide to bring a lantern and take us through the dark sections. There were Buddhas, elephants, and other symbols throughout the cave. Unfortunately, there were also massive spiders, weird cricket things, and hundreds of bats. DD#1 and I were both pretty freaked out. We ended the guided part of our tour early and got out of there!
We continued riding bikes for a while until the bikes started falling apart. First DD#1’s pedal fell apart, and then mine. No wonder the bikes were around $3 a day to rent! We returned to the Cave Bar to have one of the bikes fixed. The owner made us a drink and hauled the bike off in her pick-up truck to have her brother fix it. She left us in the bar all alone. The kids liked hammering real nails into a block of wood.
We had a fabulous dinner at the western restaurant. I had salmon and DH had steak. The girls ate their meals and wrote in the journals in a nearby shelter with a hammock. It was a very relaxing meal. DD#1 lost a tooth after dinner! We think it's her 3rd lost tooth in a different country.
The next day, we started with the same fancy breakfast. So good! Then we biked down what was known as the “Beautiful Road”. We saw rice paddies and other crops. It was a very pretty ride.
The highlight of the day was taking a songthaew (pickup truck with seating in the back) to a waterfall and hot springs national park about 20 miles away. We hired the songthaew for the day and the driver patiently waited for us at each of our stops. It rained off and on for the day but it didn’t stop us.
The hot springs were certainly hot! We relaxed in them for quite a while.
We have stopped at little open-air stores to pick up various beverages and snacks. Here's an example of one of these rural "stores" that are so common here.
We arrived back a few hours later and had some more time to chill out in our bungalow before dinner. The pace of this place is very conducive to relaxing! It’s such a relief after the pace of Bangkok. Tomorrow we will head back to Chiang Mai where we will stay for six nights. Let the adventure continue!