Chiang Mai to Phrao via a very sticky waterfall

An account of cycling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai: part one

Saturday 2nd January

Miles: 36

  
After almost a week off we were back on the road, next stop Chiang Rai. 

We exited Chiang Mai on the larger 107 road, and then just before Mae Rim turned off onto the smaller and quieter Chiang Mai – Phrao road instead. 

A few rolling hills turned into a gradual incline, which was noticeable but not difficult. After being in a city it was great to get back into the countryside again. 
    

We had decided to break up what would have been a long day to Phrao into two short days, as I thought that we should visit the Buatong Waterfall. 

Our plan to stay at the Buatong Resort fell through when we turned up and the place was closed. The locals I asked didn’t know of another place to stay, which meant we faced another 30 miles to Phrao. This led to the emergence of Grumpy Eric. But like a good sport he still agreed to take a 4 mile deviation to see the waterfall. 

… And it’s a good thing he did, because as it happens there’s a guest-house there. Problem solved!   

It was very rustic, but quite cute with a good view out the back. 

  
After lunch we went to see the waterfall. It’s awesome. Let me explain…

  
Buatong Waterfall is nicknamed the “Sticky Waterfall”, because although the rocks look slippery they are in fact the opposite – super grippy, which means that you can walk right up the waterfall with total ease.

  
It takes some getting used to, because you see smooth, steep white rocks covered in gushing water, and your brain is saying “Watch out! You’re going to slip!” And then you walk up it like a gecko! 

  
The grip-factor is caused by mineral deposits over the rock. There was so much mineral deposit in the water that we could see limestone clinging to live ferns by the waterfall. 

  
Our favourite way yet to stay cool – sitting in a waterfall. 

  
My only mistake was wearing a backpack full of our electronic gadgets. I try not to leave our valuable stuff behind in our accommodation, but the upshot of this was that I was walking up and down a waterfall carrying an iPad, a camera, a kindle and two mobile phones (I hadn’t realised quite how much we would be walking around this waterfall). Luckily the Sticky Waterfall lived up to its name, and I didn’t ruin hundreds of pounds worth of equipment! 

Close to the waterfall is the Ched-Sri Fountain, a very beautiful and almost magical-looking spring. From its depths we could see some kind of mineral cloud bubbling up now and then.

  
Thai people were using a bucket on a long stick to take a sip of water from the spring, as well as rubbing the water on their heads. There’s a story that a god created the spring, so I think that drinking/touching the water has religious significance for Thai people, though perhaps it’s meant to have health benefits too. Knowing what iron-clad stomachs Thai people have, me and Eric decided not to partake. 

Sunday 3rd January 

Miles: 32

  
I didn’t think I would ever say this, but here it goes: I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning because it was chilly. Wow! 

We were on the road by the leisurely hour of 8.30 as we only had a half day today. Once back on the Chiang Mai – Phrao road we sped down into a valley and cycled alongside some beautiful mountains.

  
We passed through little villages and farmland. It was all very nice and easy going, and what’s more, we had a cornetto for breakfast (in the middle of the Thai countryside enjoying a cornetto – thank you globalisation). 

After passing right through Phrao we stopped off at the Poo Phrao Guest House (tee hee). This place is surrounded by mountains, it’s pretty lovely. 

  

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