When looking for a name for my blog my partner Shaun suggested a Martin Buber quote, from which I chose the name “the Narrow Ridge.” There is a second Martin Buber quote listed on my blog under the section entitled, “quotes” https://thenarrowridge.wordpress.com/a-meeting-place/
Yesterday, myself and six new-found “Chiang Mai” friends lived this second quote; “all journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware.” And boy, were we unaware!
What began as a day trip to Doi Sutep, Bhubing Palace, and a waterfall, through Doi Pui National Park (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thailand/chiang-mai-province/doi-suthep-pui-national-park) turned into something all-together different. We were all looking forward to temporarily escaping the smoky air and heat (40+ degrees) of Chiang Mai, for the fresh, cool air of the mountains and forests surrounding the city.
We did visit the temple at Doi Sutep and gardens at Bhubing Palace, but our collective desire for a dip in the cool water of a waterfall was not to be.
From paved roads along the well travelled tourist path, we transitioned to a good dirt road through the coffee plantation and hill tribe area. We stopped for an iced coffee and were serenaded by a local man who had fashioned a musical instrument out of plastic pieces that he hung around his shoulders. He played his instrument between a grunting sound he made as he smiled, looking into our eyes . Our coffee shop host explained that he could not speak and was a character that lived in this village. We also met Mat, a tourist who intended to travel a through road from this hill tribe town to Chiang Mai, rather than going back the way we’d come. We intended to return the way we’d come so we could refresh ourselves in pools at one of several waterfalls we’d passed on the way up.
After our coffee and musical break we decide to go just a little bit further into the hill tribe area. Quickly, the road deteriorated from a decent dirt road, to a dirt track with rocks, roots, and deep ruts in steep switch backs down the forested mountains. Two of us in our band of merry Thai Massage students had never driven motorcycles before, and two of us had passengers on our motorcycles trusting us to keep them safe. A suggestion by our colourful French companion Alexandra to continue down the mountain rather than trying to go back up this mess of a “road” (surely this would be the easier choice some of us thought) set in motion an afternoon that we will never forget!
After some motorcycles skills challenges, that led to a couple of minor tip overs, we found ourselves lost in the mountains with several choices of “do we go right, or do we go left?”
We came upon Mat who was also wandering around the mountainside equally lost, but we were all somewhat assured at being in this situation together. The sun was fading and if we were all going to get to class on Monday alive, we would need to find our way down before dark. “Sure wish we had a GPS” Mat said, which reminded me I had my iPhone on me. We were all thrilled the the CityMaps app worked on this mountain range, and using our superior orientation skills, we figured we had been travelling in the wrong direction.
Turning around and taking the other turn, we felt somewhat assured that we were at least heading in the right direction (down). The moment of assurance came when a group of Thai motocross bikers came firing around a corner to discover our still hopeful, yet haggard, merry band. The look on their faces was “what are these tourists doing out on this mountainside on these mopeds?!” Big smiles and the words “Chiang Mai” accompanied by gestures pointing down the path we were headed, was music to our ears.
Now at least we felt it was REALLY possible we would make it off this mountain, back to Chiang Mai before dark in one piece, and to school on Monday, with stories to tell. The only thing missing was our refreshing dip in a waterfall. To our utter delight we found ourselves descending the mountain to the Huai Tung Thao Resevoir we had visited only last weekend! We reached the shore, stripped down, and plunged into the water of the lake shouting with pleasure.
Our ride back on regular roads to Chiang Mai was uneventful and we all collapsed at the organic restaurant Bird’s Nest Cafe. We laid back on floor mats and hung around in the hammock eating, drinking, listening to Ben play guitar and sing, and recounting stories of bravery, courage, and the craziness of our day.
Today, was a favourite day…