My study abroad was in the final days as we partook in the Buddha’s birthday. Now some people may think this would be cake and ice cream or a nice Thai treat, but in fact it was the most grueling days I’ve experienced in Thailand.
The tradition in Chiang Mai is to walk to the Doi Suthep Temple, starting from the edge of the city. It was a 6.2 mile walk up the mountain to the temple, but was well worth it. We were one of the first groups up the mountain, starting an hour or so before sundown. It took over 2 hours to get up the mountain, but luckily our tour van was stopped at various locations along the route with water and snacks to get us up the mountain.
Once we made it to the top, which the last 200 yards or so seemed to be the most strenuous on the walk and by that time my hip started to hurt. It seemed amazing to make it to the top and have completed the journey without getting into the van and letting it take me part of the way up the mountain. It felt like a great victory, until I learned that there were 309 steps up to the actual temple. They have a tram to help those who can’t make it up the steps, but the line was too long and my group didn’t want to wait, after all we beat the mountain to get up there, why not take the steps?!
After the trek up the mountain, the strenuous 309 steps, we finally made it to the top, just as the sun was setting over Chiang Mai, and remains as one of my most memorable experiences in Thailand.
Finally done in by the afternoon jaunt, we headed back down the mountain in a Song Thaew only to be bombarded by the droves of people making the same trek we took an hour or so earlier. It seemed as though there were millions of people on the road, not like when we came up with our group and sporadic Thai’s making the trek. It was amazing to see the people and hear them singing on the way up.