A Canadian mate asked me to drive his pick-up to the top of Doi Suthep (1676m) yesterday; he bicycled up in just under 35 minutes - not bad for a guy of 63! Its long & steep for those who dont know it.
We headed past Wat Prah That, the huge & impresssive temple that crowns/overlooks Chiang Mai, past the Royal Palace & gardens, out past one of the Hmong hill-tribe villages & onto a small coffee plantation producing its own brew.
The Canadian knew of a (very) rough track that descended across & down the northern face of the ranges. He had tried the descent once before on an off-road bicycle in the wet & the mud which had made it a 'hairy' event & was keen to try again in the 4x4. Its a rough old track winding through the various ranges surrounding Chiang Mai. The views are enormous, the vegetation impressive & the air fresh & clean. I dont think we ever did more than 10klms/hr, & always in 4 wheel drive such is the difficulty, but this is a bike rider's paradise. There's virtually no-one on the 'road'; it serves basically as an access amongst various hill tribe villages, their small plantations, orchards etc. Fantastic to see how these guys live, how they farm. We traversed tiered rice paddies, vegie plantations, orchards, massive trees they climb via permanently attached bamboo ladders to get honey - postcard pictures!
You come down from the clouds somewhere out near Mae Rim & arrive out the back of Huay Teung Thao Reservoir - yep, straight onto a bamboo raft with a couple of cold Changs & some 'insect nibblies'!