10-Oct-2010 -- When we left Chiangmai, the idea was to do some trekking around Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain (2565 m). Then it started raining and the trekking was cancelled as we did not have rubber boots or proper clothing. We drove up to the top and had a quick glance at the two large chedis in the mist, but the weather was not on our side. Heading down again our first stop was at the attractive Wat Phra Sri Chom Thong with a 500 years old golden chedi. The viharn houses a relic (a part of Buddha's skull) and an impressive collection of Buddha images, elephant tusks, weapons, umbrellas, thrones etc: a likable, welcoming place. In the compound there is also an old bodi tree with long, sagging branches supported by a great variety of sticks, some painted, others carved.
Next stop was Ob Luang (Grand Canyon) with a narrow wooden foot bridge over a 50 m deep gorge and a nice trail of a couple of kilometers in the national park.
Salaween National Park on the river facing Burma was a possible next target. But in Mae Sariang the GPS indicated that N18E98 was not too far from the town, and my travel companion Ms. Amporn who had never been to a confluence point, was persuaded to go for it.
At Sop Moei our pickup truck turned out to be too weak for the challenges of climbing the hills towards the confluence point. We asked a bit around, and a young man with a 4WD truck offered to take us up the 8 km or so. The road had been upgraded two years ago with asphalt and more concrete, he said. But long patches were still gravel and/or just mud. Approaching the cp we took to the right at the Karen village of Mae Ok Tai. Tai mens south, which indicates that there is a northern village too. In a bend further up the narrow track, we found that the cp was only 245 m away, straight West. We started climbing a steep, forested muddy hill with lots of wet, slippery leaves and also thorny shrubs. At the top of the hill there was an opening in the forest and the cp was just 80 m down on the other side. The foliage was again quite dense and wet. It was difficult to get an accurate reading on the GPS. We glimpsed the zero a couple of times, but it was gone before we managed to take a photo of it. Although we crisscrossed the area many times, 5 m was the closest we could document.
As experienced so many times before at these cp-expeditions the return to the car was a lot easier. At the top of the hill there was a clear path going South. We followed that down to a rice field where we found another path going NE along the field and straight back to the 4WD.
Going down to the main road took almost as long as going up due to the steepness of the terrain. For Thuan, the young driver, this was an unusual day taking strange people to a place where there is nothing to see.
Ps. The time on the GPS is CET