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18/02/25_Hike report_Wat Umong to Wat Doi Kham

19 people joined this suburban hike, assembling at 07:15. Ten minutes’ walk up from Canal Road, we entered the main gate of Wat Umong, and spent 20 minutes or so in its grounds, visiting its tunnels, the stupa, and the lake. A small island, connected to the bank by a pair of foot-bridges, is home to a large snake, we learned. It was only after some of us had stepped over its rear end thinking it was a tree-root, that we noticed the front end, under a bush, devouring a pigeon. It’s a reticulated python (thanks, Richard).

Reticulated python devouring a pigeon on the island at Wat Umong. Photo by Janet.

 

Black Crowned Night Heron at Wat Umong. Photo by Janet.

 

Aviary at the wildlife education center near Wat Umong.

Leaving Wat Umong by the side-gate, we briefly visited the Choeng Doi Suthep Wildlife and Nature Education Center, long enough to look at the enclosed birds and catch a glimpse of deer near the entrance. But there does not seem to be an alternative to leaving again by the main gate. So we made our way onward across some soon-to-be-developed land, to reach the most westerly lane leading southward. The area through which we next walked includes an interesting mixture of homes (from shacks to mansions) and small businesses.

Wall of pots outside a house along our route. Photo by Janet.

Although the mountain forest is close on the right, there are few opportunities to enter the Doi Suthep National Park, but we got a bit of woodland-walking near the access-point used in Richard’s hike of last rainy season. There we turned south-east, and soon crossed into the Mae Hia (agricultural) campus of Chiang Mai University, from where we could see our the giant Buddha statue of Wat Doi Kham on the hill ahead of us.

In CMU Mae Hia campus, with Wat Doi Kham visible of the hill.

After tracing a path around the campus’ lakes and among its crop fields, a little more road-walking was needed in order to reach the staircase that makes the final ascent to Wat Doi Kham.

The final (naga) stage of staircase leading up to Wat Doi Kham.

Our counts of the number of steps ranged between 487 and 510.

Reaching the top, we found Wat Phra Tat Doi Kham very full of visitors, motor vehicles, and stalls for souvenirs and refreshments. There was time for some of us to walk round and see the temple complex, but most of us used that time to recover with cold drinks. We then all bundled into a couple of songthaews to take us to the bottom of the hill, and a couple more to return us to our morning’s starting-point, which we reached around 11.45.

Hike initiation and report by Michael M.

 

 

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