What a magnificent outing it is to ride, each on a motorbike, out through Jae Sorn & down through Mae Kampong; indeed it was the 2nd time for me in only a week!
We headed off at 7am to catch the early rays of sun & to participate in taak-baat. Its a (very) steep climb to Jae Sorn but well worth it for the vista - the wonderful mountain scenery, the chance to pass through relatively isolated true Thai villages, to see the buffalo worked rice fields half gold, half green depending on the stage of the growth of the rice.
There's little traffic - not surprising when one sees at one point a roadway TOTALLY collapsed, washed away by heavy rains, falling away hundreds of metres, both sides, below you. Jae Sorn is 1300m above sea level (Chiang Mai 300m). Despite the best planning, towards the top of the ride, at around 1400m, we rode through thick fog -invigorating but freezing! How good was to arrive at the beautiful National Park of Jae Sorn, to plunge into the warm hot springs before settling down for a wonderful 2 hour massage!
Back on the road, a 'wild ride' from the national park, down steep declinds, across roadside streams, past waterfalls, through huge trees (one tree had actually fallen across the road necessitating we carry the bikes over the fallen tree with the help of some by-chance passers by blocked in their car), down to the wonderful village of Mae Kampong. MK is an eco village built over 3 levels rising up against the mountains. An ancient opium growing area now thriving on its natural beauty. Absolutely brilliant wooden architecture, good restos, blazing fireplaces......just a great overall ambience.
We took 11 hours to complete the trip & loved every moment (as well as the Guiness at the pub upon our return!)
Jae Sorn is a 'good workout' but nothing could stop us heading off to Sukhothai the next day for Loy Krathong. Sukhothai (Rising of Happiness) was Siam's (Thailand's) first capital, around 50sq klms of fabulous architecture & religious art, absolutely mind boggling remnants from the 13th century. It was in Sukhothai that Loy Krathong first started.
LK in Sukhothai is so good one can well understand the desire of so many Asian countries to now conduct their own LK ceremonies, especially Yi Peng or the launching of huge lit lanterns! The event runs for 4 days, 5.30am to after mid-night. There's just so much to do. The Thais are there en masse to celebrate their culture.
We came for the finale on day 4, in particular to witness the absolutely brilliant light & sound performance at Wat Mahathat, the floating krathong ceremony & traditional firework display on Tra Pang Tra Khon. This whole experience is beyond words (even for me!). Its said a picture paints a thousand words, so I feel compelled to post some photos to do justice to this most wonderful, most spectacular of events. Myriama is adament - this is THE best ceremony she has ever witnessed (& that is a HUGE call after the Heiva in Tahiti). This one can blow you away, reduce you to tears, leave you gob-smacked!!!