Today was our last full day in Chiang Mai. We went to the top of the tallest mountain in Thailand at about 8,000 feet. It was nice and cool at the top after our two hour drive through the south of town and then up the windy road ascending the mountain. All of the roads we’ve been on here in Thailand have been paved and in good condition. Even the one lane roads to roadside attractions like waterfalls and the small villages are concrete. That’s better than what we have in the mountains in the U.S.
Deni liked the coolness of the cloud forest at the top of the mountain. I liked the first blue sky we’ve seen above us except when in an airplane. There is a king’s stupa and a queen’s stupa near the top of the mountain built by the Thai air force just a few years ago. Surrounding both stupas are English gardens with all of the flowers that we’re used to at home. So it was a good transition to spring in Oregon.
On the way back down the mountain, we visited a Hmong market, a Karen small village, and a waterfall. While talking to our tour guide we got a clarification on the status of the hill tribes. All of the hill tribes are legal Thai citizens with identity cards and full rights. The exception is the “long neck” subgroup of the Karen. Neither Myanmar (Burma) nor Thailand wants them. They came across the Thai border within the last 50 years. The other groups have been here long enough to have been assimilated. The long neck Karen people retain ties on both sides of the Myanmar/Thai border and may walk across the border through the mountains periodically to visit family and clan members.
The temperature down in the valley was 100 degrees today, so it was a good day to go to higher altitude. Tomorrow we’ll tour a couple more of the cultural museums here in town before we head out to the airport to take our short flight to Bangkok. Then we take the red eye 24-hour extravaganza back to Portland. We’re looking forward to spring at home.