THAILAND DIARIES – VOLUME 2 – DRIVING THAILAND
Driving Thailand is the second Volume of my Thailand Diaries and is now complete. But before I publish it as my second FREE e-book I have decided to post a selection of excerpts which I hope will encourage you to download and enjoy the whole book. – The best way to see Thailand.
NORTHERN PROVINCES – CHIANG MAI & CHIANG RAI (Part 1)
Mountains inspire awe in any human person who has a soul. They remind us of our frailty, our unimportance, of the briefness of our span upon this earth. They touch the heavens, and sail serenely at an altitude beyond even the imaginings of a mere mortal. Elizabeth Aston, (The Exploits & Adventures of Miss Alethea Darcy, 2005)
There are several routes you can drive the 600 kilometres to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. The most direct according to the map is Route 11. I have only driven the route north via Nakhon Pathom, Supanburi, Chainat, Uthai Thani and Nakhon Sawan. Then I took Route 1 to Kamphaeng Phet, Tak, Lampang, Lamphun and finally Chiang Mai. I found the drive easy, both ways, as there were no holdups due to traffic or road works and the quality of roads is a great improvement on those in the South and going east.
The Province of Chiang Mai is home to approximately 1.6 million people of which less than 200,000 live in and around Chiang Mai itself. The many benefits of life in Chiang Mai are gradually becoming apparent. The climate is markedly different with a much longer dry season than elsewhere. I am lead to believe that the world climate change has affected Chiang Mai and whereas in the middle of the dry season, December and January, people used to build fires to keep warm; now they no longer need to. Rain in the monsoon season is also much less persistent than it used to be unlike Bangkok and the South. The landscape envelopes you; mountains, rivers, forests and valleys combine seamlessly constantly breathing life into the habitat.
The City and suburbs
Widely acknowledged as the cultural heart of Thailand, Chiang Mai has much to offer the tourist and the ex-pat. I was surprised to learn of the number of ex-pats who settled there in preference to Phuket but now I know why. I am enthused by the friendly and more reserved nature of the locals and the diverse landscape. Doi Suthep National Park, taking in the Wat Prathat Temple high above Chiang Mai and Mae Sa waterfall are particularly impressive. At Tiger Kingdom you can walk with, talk to and cuddle some of the amazingly tame big cats if you are brave enough. After all a tiger is a wild an animal and they don’t have false teeth!’