Nature. We’ve spent the last few months in cities. Pretty big cities. Something was missing for us and we suddenly realized it was the woods. Back in Webster, NH we live in the woods. We live among the tress, the birds, and all the other animals that also claim home there. Every window from our home looks at trees, some months covered in snow, other months various shades of green, and some vibrant fall colors of yellow, red, and orange. We needed some nature. I think we took it for granted at home. It’s just there. We needed to be among the woods and part of it, or the jungle as it’s often called here.
We needed a hike. David found a trail called Monk’s Trail. A great hike in a little forested area near Chiang Mai University. We were able to walk to the trail head from our apartment. Monk’s Trial is a hike up Doi Suthep to Wat Pha Lat. A temple in the woods. It’s called Monk’s Trail because there are orange pieces of cloth tied to the trees along the way as the markers. The same material and color that monks customarily wear to cover their bodies. And apparently monks use the trail but we didn’t see any hiking the day we were there.
Oh, what a nice feeling. So nice to be on dirt paths in the trees with a stream running alongside of it. I forgot how important nature is for the soul. I was hearing the sound of birds more than the sound of traffic. I was hearing my own footsteps, I was hearing my own breath. It was a pretty good uphill climb and that’s the other thing I miss. Good hiking for cardio work. Breathing and sweating and smiling. It feels so good. The end of the trail brought us to, as I mentioned, a Wat (a.k.a. a temple). It was Wat Pha Lat. Not far from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. But way less people, and more serene and quite. We were so happy to find this little gem of a hike and temple area in the mountains. There was a deck with a great view of the trees and woods. We sat by the river and noticed dozens of dragon flies in the air just above the river where the water pooled some. It was a big gathering and amusing to watch. There were stairs leading to different areas with many old statues. The statues had bamboo, palm trees, vines, and other plants I couldn’t identify growing around them. I loved how they just merged with the beautiful nature around them.
We visited the temples and sat in one of them for some meditation time. After meditation we explored the area some more and found, would you believe it, a little coffee shack with an espresso machine. Wow, meant to be we thought….all the way up here on this mountain….we must have one! We were greeted by a friendly monk who made a great latte for us.
A few days later we went to Doi Inthanon National Park. A couple hours drive from Chiang Mai. We hired Eddy to drive us there. We met Eddy our first day in Chaing Mai. He drove us from the airport to our apartment. He is a tour guide who meets most of his clients through his work providing airport transportation. His given name is Surya but tells us to call him Eddy, like Eddy Murphy he says. He has a good sense of humor. The highest mountain in Thailand is in Doi Inthanon National Park. It’s at 2565 meters, which is 8415 feet. Higher then Mt. Washington in NH. The hiking is not hard but there are some trails that provide beautiful views and what we really wanted….nature.
The temperature was much cooler then in Chaig Mai. It was probably 20 degrees (F) cooler. That was a nice respite from the heat as it had been in the high 90’s and up to 103. What a nice feeling to take deep clean air breaths while looking at stunning views. We did a couple hour hike with a guide. It is required to hire a guide if you want to hike Giew Mae Pan Nature Trail. The guides are from the local Hmong hill tribe and are experts on the route. So we hired our guide, who spoke no English, and our driver Eddy came along with us! The trail had some good elevation and lots of stairs along the way.
There are interpretive signs (in Thai and English) along the path that provide info about the plants, landscapes, and ecosystems that we came across. We saw lots of moss, ferns, a waterfall, grasslands area, and Pra Mahathart Napamaythaneedol Chedi and the Pra Mahathart Napapoommisiri Chedi can be seen from one viewpoint on the trail.
Near the end of the trail, there deck in the middle of the woods with a sign encouraging people to rest and enjoy the sounds of nature. We did just that and here’s a little clip to see, listen, and feel for yourself. Turn up the volume and click here to watch and listen.
There was a quote on the panoramic view sign that said, “The most beautiful things in the world can not be seen, or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” ~ Helen Keller. Although you can see nature and you can touch nature, the beauty is that feeling in the heart that connects you with nature and then a merging with that beauty. So, if you live somewhere where you can access nature easily, you are fortunate. Enjoy it and really feel it with your heart. Nature….feel the beauty. Allow the beauty to merge with you.