Most of us dream of fairy tales until such a time we realize that it does not exist and would remain just like that – a dream. But once in a while, right in the middle of our ordinary existence, life gives us a fairy tale.
Unexpectedly, I had one brief magical moment on our second day in Chiang Mai…
Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand. It was previously known as Doi Luang “big mountain” or Doi Ang Ka “crow’s pond top” because near the mountain’s base was a pond where many crows gathered. Its current name, Doi Inthanon, was given in honour of King Inthawichanayon, one of the last kings of Chiang Mai, who wanted to preserve the forests in the north.
Doi Inthanon is one of the most famous national parks because of its waterfalls, hiking trails, viewpoints that are perfect for sunrise/sunset watching, wildlife preservations, cool weather all year round and many others.
I had a list on what to visit, and we took the time to cover them one by one. Too many places, too little time though.
This waterfall is 80m high with enough volume that could produce plenty of mists and rainbows.
There was also a trail up the waterfalls on the left side. As curious as I am, my cousin joined in exploring what was up there. We were not wearing trekking shoes so it was a bit slippery (and scary) but full of adventure nonetheless.
The top of the waterfall was beautiful. It was also inviting that you want to take off your clothes and step onto the water. No wonder a “No Swimming” sign was posted in this area. To be safe, I just contented myself in looking around, to the point that I did not bother to take photos but admired the beauty of nature with my naked eye.
KING INTHANON MEMORIAL SHRINE
This memorial shrine was built by Chao Dara Rasmi, daughter of King Inthanon and royal consort to King Chulalongkorn of Siam in March 1915. It contained the ashes of her father, King Inthawichayanon (1870-1897), who was the 7th ruler of the last dynasty of Chiang Mai.
CLOUD FOREST & HIGHEST SPOT IN THAILAND
With the current news about global warming and other human activities that are hazardous to health and nature, it was overwhelming to see such undisturbed wildlife. This walking track also had panels about flora and fauna that was very informative.
Though the highest spot didn’t give me the views I anticipated to see, I was still happy to be there. It was, after all, the start of the Himalayas! So hurray!
ANG KA LUANG NATURE TRAIL
The Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail, (Ang Ka, which means “Crow’s Pond“) is a boardwalk that is approximately 366 meters in length, about 2500 meters above the average mean sea level, and would take 30 minutes to complete.
This is also said to be the gate to the Himalayan range which means that the summit of Doi Inthanon shares the same temperate climate. Therefore, there are various temperate species found in this area. Ang Ka also has a peat bog in the middle so it is inhabited by some rare plants and wildlife indigenous to a typical ecosystem.
ROYAL TWIN PAGODAS
The Royal Twin Pagodas, with full name Phra Maha Dhatu Nabha Metaneedon and Phra Maha Dhatu Nabhapol Bhumisiri, were built by the Thai Army to commemorate the 60th birthdays of the King and Queen – the King’s 60th in 1987 and the Queen’s 60th in 1992.
These pagodas were one of the tourist spots in Doi Inthanon. And since it stood not too far from the summit, and with signs along the road, this spot cannot be missed. Each pagoda also has a large staircase, along with an elevator for those who have problems climbing the stairs, so this is a place that can really be visited by everyone.
The pagodas were built in 2 separate hills. Both had great architecture, with walls and ceilings artistically decorated with artworks. Inside of the pagodas were Buddha statues and outside were carvings about Buddhism. And although there were twin pagodas, the Queen’s Pagoda was smaller than the other one. However, both were beautiful inside and out.
Outside the pagodas were a beautiful garden with various types of plants and flowers. We wandered around with a quest to find the most beautiful flower with perfect petals.
And now for the last stop…
I already told our driver that I wanted to see these cute pink little flowers that are famous in Japan. If you grew up watching anime, you would dream to see them as well – which I did. So when I felt that our driver was speeding in the highway and didn’t have the intention to stop, I started to panic. Only to realize that he would take us to the Thai Royal Agricultural Research where these little flowers are in full bloom.
And there it was… stunningly beautiful.
Call me overreacting or whatever, but if you live in a tropical country, there are no Sakura trees. So imagine how happy I was when I saw and touched it for the first time in my life.
In Japanese culture, the cherry blossoms represent fragility and the beauty of life. It’s a reminder that life is overwhelmingly beautiful but tragically short. And as I touch it, grasping every magical minute I have, it made me realize not to worry about everything but to live life by the moment. It made me so grateful to be alive!
So I erased all the thoughts about the series of setbacks I have, but just smiled and promised to bloom and blossom wherever life would plant me.
And one thing is for sure, I would bury deep in my heart the fairy tale moment I had under the cherry trees.