They say that failing to plan is planning to fail and while that holds true mostly, it's not always the case. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and do things spontaneously. Luckily, in our recent Chiang Mai road trip, we did a bit of both.
At first we thought, we'll do a breakdown of our itinerary and share information about the destination but you know what, there are tons of resources out there. We love stories and we're sure so do you. So here are 5 memorable adventures (and misadventures) that really stuck out from our trip.
No money, no caving
The sign read:
Foreigner 40 baht, Thai 20 baht (but in Thai). For electricity 40 baht
The latter was referring to if you want to go in the caves that have no light and therefore must use a guide. The guides were local volunteers who take you deep inside the dark tunnels of the caves. There was an additional 100 baht to hire the guides.
Stupid us. We didn't withdraw money from the ATM before coming. We had an exact change of 300 baht, which we had used for the entrance fee, water and religious offerings for the temple.
I dug deep into my pockets and backpack to look for some spare cash or coins. Alas we were a 100 Baht short! Exploring the dark caves was something I really wanted to do.
Disappointed, we returned back to our car. Kanika could see the bleak expressions on my face and suggested that we go to an ATM and draw some cash. I asked a local vendor lady where the nearest ATM machine was and she said about 5 kms.
At this point I had lost my interest and decided that we'll just drive off to our next destination. Kanika then insisted that we stay and figure this thing out. She rummaged through every corner of her bag and looked in all the compartments of the car. Surprisingly, she managed to take out EXACTLY 100 Baht.
I quickly ran back to the cave and shamelessly drew out all the coins in change to give to the guide. OK, no, I was a bit embarrassed and apologized to the guide that I didn't have proper notes to give her. She just smiled and said 'mai pen rai kha' (no problem). So on we went.
The guide explained the significance of different limestone formations that resembled flora and fauna. This was all good and great but what I really enjoyed was going through narrow tunnels and twisting pathways that satisfied my sense of adventure..
I am so glad that Kanika was able to come up with the money because it was simpy an amazing experience.
There's something about waterfalls that is so calming. It's as if they have a life of their own. Cascading sounds, mystical air, fresh air all create a stimulus that sends the senses into overdrive. Being in the presence of a beautiful waterfalls can be such a heart-warming, mind-bending, soul-fulfilling and adventurous experience.
It is a well known fact that Chiang Mai is home to some of the most stunning and unique waterfalls. There's no wonder then why we spent so much time chasing them during our time there.
Even to the day we had to leave Chiang Mai to come back to Bangkok, we were spending the morning chasing a waterfall we came across on Instagram called Bua Thong (sticky waterfall). In doing so, what was suppose to be a 9-10 hour drive home, became 13 hours. It was all worth it!
Cliffdiving. RIP GoPro
This was something I wanted to do more than anything. I read about the Grand Canyon of Chiang Mai and saw videos. I knew I had to do this.
I approached the edge, calculating the drop from the cliff to the gorgeous aqua color quarry water below. It was a strange feeling as everything around me slowed down except my heartbeat. I felt my knees buckle for a second and my heart was beating like a drum just as I was about to jump. I held back.
I began talking into my GoPro and heared my wife say 'jump far', which jolted me back in control and I quickly took the opportunity to take the leap before my body decided again not to cooperate.
In a split second and half a shout later, I felt myself crash into the water.
But I lost my GoPro just as I crashed. I was sad for about an hour but I went back up the cliff, waited for some Thai guys to jump in unison, as one timidly stayed back. I spoke to him and suggested he took a deep breath and just jump.
He replied saying, let's do it together. I liked the idea and we took a step back…counted 3, 2, 1…we ran and before we knew it, we took a big leap forward.
Screaming and kicking, we hit the water surface with a big splash. We reveled by high fiving each other before exchanging names and going our merry way.
Mountain views and On-the-edge driving
One of our favorite things about the road trip in Chiang Mai was driving up and down the mountain ranges. It was the steep and curving roads matched with picturesque landscape views and small towns along the way that made it all such an unforgettable experience.
Doi Inthanon and Doi Suthep were part of our plan and both were equally amazing in terms of the drive, view and nature hikes, but it was our spontaneous trip to Doi Ang Khang that really tipped the scale.
The trip definitely tested my driving skills and the occasional fog made it even a bigger challenge. Imagine going up a steep mountain and then coming across a sharp u-turn like road as it continues to climb. Having a automatic car didn't help but we powered our way up whilst being wary of buses, motorbikes and other cars coming from the opposite direction. Oh and did I mention the scary blindspots?