SE Asia – March 29, 2013 – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Sign at the top of the tallest mountain in Thailand 2565 meters (8,,415 ft).

Sign at the top of Inthanon Mountain. The tallest in Thailand at 2565 meters (8,,415 ft).

Cloud forest at the top of the mountain. It's one of three cloud forests in Thailand.

Cloud forest at the top of the mountain. It’s one of three cloud forests in Thailand.

Looking towards the foothills from the top of the mountain. The air is so full of smoke you can't see much.

Looking towards the foothills from the top of the mountain. The air is so full of smoke you can’t see much.

The king's stupa and surrounding flower garden near the top of Inthanon Mountain.

The king’s stupa and surrounding flower garden near the top of Inthanon Mountain.

Hmong market near the top of the mountain.

Hmong market near the top of the mountain.

A spoon and a cup keep this young Hmong girl occupied while her mother is tending her shop.

A spoon and a cup keep this young Hmong girl occupied while her mother is tending her shop.

Hmong village house with roof made of teak leaves.

Hmong village house with roof made of teak leaves.

Waterfall near the base of Inthanon Mountain.

Waterfall near the base of Inthanon Mountain.

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.

Bob

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