- Dean Bainbridge
KindaMindful In Chiang Mai : The Lost Path
Often, the path is not always clear.
Like, literally. There’s been a monsoonal downpour which has felled trees and that path you were looking to follow is now indistinguishable from the surrounding rainforest.
That’s how my trek up one of Thailand’s most famous mountains began. To be fair, the trouble started a littler earlier when the somewhat cryptic directions of a blogger turned out to be a little less accurate than we’d hoped. Eventually, we found the secret turn which lead to the pair of huts which signified the beginning of the ‘monk’s trail’ up the hillside of Doi Suthep.
After some creative hiking over and through fallen branches I spotted the trail on the other side and we continued up toward our destination, a little known monastery or Wat. Although the ground was tough and the high temperature and humidity was intense, I had to remind myself that the monks do this weekly… in robes and sandals.
The way is marked by ribbons of orange. This is the only signage you get. Google maps won’t find you. Some of the ribbons are old and faded so you really do need to keep vigilant. Over trees and creeks we climbed and were met with the stunning Wat Pha Lat: the temple of the sloping rock. So named for it’s precarious location straddling a gentle sloping waterfall overlooking the ancient city of Chiang Mai.
I wont say it is a temple in ruins, but is decidedly different from the gilded Wats of Thailand. Ancient mossy stone statues and slabs are overgrown with tenacious vines and shrubs. The monks quarters are shrouded in a mess of lush tropical canopy.
I like this. Very much.
There's something wonderful about seeing it in its natural state. Or maybe I just felt like Indiana Jones discovering a lost temple. The path to the top was not clear, but the clarity you reach when you’re there is worth the aimless wanderings on the way.