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I wasn’t going to let my story of getting lost in the Doi Suthep jungle end the way it did. What kind of adventurer would I be if I gave up like that? No, the only solution was to get back into that jungle and find where I went wrong. Success!
My friend Gwen and I started out from Old Town Chiang Mai shortly after noon. We first grabbed a large lunch at Bebeez Cafe which would sustain us through the hike. We arrived at the Doi Suthep temple shortly after 1 PM and did a short tour around the grounds. We didn’t enter the temple itself as we wanted to get started on the hike, and we didn’t want to pay the entry fee. We looked for the trail which led up the mountain, but it didn’t start from the temple.
Just before 2, we were walking around the campground next to the temple and finally found the trail. At the entrance we found a sight which was rather creepy. Two heads stared at us from a rundown shack. It was as if someone were trying to dissuade us from the hike. We continued on anyway.
At the outset, Google Maps started giving us problems. It would say we were still in the center of the temple, or just bounce around on the map, refusing to center on one location. I used the map mentioned in my original post on getting lost in a jungle and was able to locate the trails we should be on, but the same problem was happening with the GPS. Luckily the trail didn’t branch and we just kept walking along, no matter what obstacle was in our way. Well, there were a few times when we stopped to play with the obstacles.
The trail up is moderately steep at times, but not insurmountable. What we were told was going to be a five-hour hike turned out to be closer to two and a half. It was fairly near the top when we finally came to the branch I missed on the first hike. It’s no wonder we missed it. You can hardly spot the tiny trail leading between bushes in the daytime, let alone an hour after sunset when we passed it.
Around 4:30 PM, we arrived in the village at the top of the mountain. We tried to order a frappe but they had no ice. We settled on hot chocolate, which wasn’t necessarily the best after the long hike. After that we started to walk back, hoping to hitchhike with a truck coming from the village toward town. None showed up for a while, but after half an hour a Songthaew picked us up to give us a ride back to our motorcycle at the temple.
I can now say I successfully hiked through a jungle in Thailand. Sure we weren’t that far away from civilization, and as mentioned in the first post there are no wild animals to worry about. But the jungle simply isn’t the most comfortable place to spend the night. Of course, my dad has me topped with his jungle story. In 1965, he was doing survival training in a Malaysian jungle for the Royal Air Force. In the middle of the night he became aware of a large creature sniffing around him. 50 years ago, the only thought going through his mind were how many tigers there were in Malaysian jungles!