Doi Khuntan

We started our Saturday morning off the usual way:  coffee, Nutella on bread, Fox News International on the TV (our only American news station), and us discussing ways to destroy the ants that relentlessly invade our room (So far we’ve tried water, soap, bug-resistant chalk, high Deet bug spray, bathroom cleaner, and are now testing an ant poisonous-feed trap – I digress).  Our plan for the day was to motorbike out to Doi Khuntan National Park and then hike to the top of the mountain. Doi means mountain in the Northern Thai dialect.  With the sun shining bright, a sketchy map in hand and a couple street signs pointing us in the right direction we were off. We estimated the trip to be about 1.5 hours to the park.  It would be over 3 hours before we arrived at our destination. 

 

  Check out this road sign

 

You’re thinking we got lost again, aren’t you? …Well, you’re right, but it wasn’t completely our fault.  You see, in Thailand they have rather inconsistent tourism signs.  They like to reel you into recreation activities with signs posted in Thai and English.  However, the closer you get to the actual destination the fewer English signs you can find.  We think we were about 5km from the park when we realized there was no way we were going to find the park. We ended up in a tiny little village.  There were many locals outside either farming, biking, walking, or working in one of the scattered shops/restaurants.  Good, we thought, we can have them point us in the right direction. As we inched down the road looking for a friendly face we noticed that every single eye of every single person was on us. The farangs.. lost in the village. 

 

Question:  How many villagers does it take to get a couple of farangs to a National Park?

 

Answer:  “Sawatdee, ka (wai).  Ka tote, ka (smile).  Doi Khuntan, yu ti nai?”  I say.  “Sawatdee, ka,” they say back and laugh nervously. “Doi Khuntan” I repeat. Blank stares. “Doi Khuntan” I say again this time in a different tone and speed.  No look of recognition. “Doi Khuntan,” We try again and again -finally, recognition.  I can’t decide if we were actually saying Doi Khuntan completely wrong, or if they were just freezing up because a farang was talking to them.  They break into rapid Thai with no hand gestures. “Mai kao jai, ka,” (I don’t understand) I say.  More rapid Thai with no hand gestures.  “Hmm, Doi Khuntan” I say again and point left and then right.  Thankfully this time they point, though their pointing is winding and all over the place. We decide to head in the first direction they point to and then ask another person for the next direction.  I kid you not; we stopped at least 8 times (over 20 villagers!) and the same thing happened every time.  At one point we approached an elderly looking lady, she called her daughter out of the house to speak to us, who then called her daughter out of the house.  The daughter’s daughter was maybe 8-years-old and she didn’t speak any English either! The path the villagers were leading us on was just spinning us in circles.  It was like an episode of the Twilight Zone.  

 

We had finally given up and were heading back in the direction of home (we hoped) when we passed one last tiny little country road that we hadn’t tried yet. We decided to give it a go.  As it turns out, WE FOUND IT!  The road was so small and of course only had a tiny little Thai sign in front of it (probably stating ‘Doi Khuntan Ahead’).  Go figure. We didn’t stand a chance.

 

The park was quite nice. It was very green and jungle-y with bugs of unusual numbers and sizes.  It spawned an idea in my head to create jungle-hiking goggles that not only stop bugs from flying into your eyes, but also wrap around to obstruct them from swarming around the ears.  I cannot stand hearing bugs buzzing around my ears!

  Can you see me?

 

We trekked 5 kilometers up an often extremely vertical trail to the top of the doi.  The peak reached 1,373 meters (about 4,000 ft). It was beautiful from the top.  We were able to see for miles. 

 

Vince and I were going a little batty by the time we reached the top.  Here is a product of a couple gone-crazy.  We call this one ‘Fun with the Self-Timer’.  We actually have several more pictures of ourselves linked together, but the photo stitch won’t connect them properly.   

 

 

On our way back down we passed a Thai group making the climb to the top.  They were carrying an 8-foot tall solid wood cross.  They had blood makeup painted on their faces.  The leader of the group had a belt that he was using to whip the people.  They must be converting to Christianity.  Quite a bit more intense than the religion class we had growing up. 

 

By the time we were heading home the daily afternoon showers were rolling through.  Thankfully they never last too long.  Overall I give the day two thumbs up.  The next day we went for a two-hour Thai massage.  There’s nothing that a little two-hour massage can’t fix after a long day of hiking and riding. J

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~ by The Piersas on June 27, 2008.

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