This is another one of those super-long posts with 20 billion photos. What can I say?  I like photos!

Our friends from A Kings Life were getting sick of the busy city of Chiang Mai (they were staying in the centro), so they suggested escaping for a night to the mountains…up in a little place called Chiang Dao. Never wanting to miss an adventure, we agreed to tag along!

For 40 Baht per adult (kids traveled free) we bought tickets for the 1 1/2 hour ride to Chiang Dao.

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The bus was totally, um, retro? Or something?  Anyways…it was hip Smile

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We loved the revolving fans on the ceiling. Why does Thailand get cool fans like this in restaurants and buses?  They’re awesome!

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We arrived in Chiang Dao and started hunting for a motorbike rental. They only appeared to be one rental place in town (although I’ve now learned there are other rentals available on hotel properties). They only had one automatic motorbike available, and the rest were manual. Considering Jared hadn’t driven a motorbike since his teenage years, I was a little nervous about him riding the manual…so our friends were kind enough to let us get the the automatic, and they took the other.

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We decided to squeeze on one bike, which made the store workers very nervous. To appease them Jared took multiple trips to transport our family to the hotel. Meanwhile, Ethan practiced his skills in the shop with me…

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We arrived at our affordable hotel in Chiang Dao…which turned out to be the Nature Home Guesthouse. Reviews online looked good, so we took our chances. We were so glad we did! Our private cabin was simple, but perfect for us!  Our 2 double-bed room was 850 Baht ($28), and our friend’s room with 2 singles was only 550 Baht ($18). Wow!

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The grounds were absolutely awesome…a big large garden for the kids to run around!

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Check out the size of that jackfruit!

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They also had an on-site restaurant (reasonably priced) where the owners cooked up every order up from scratch. The Thai owners didn’t speak any English, but their daughter fell in love with and married a German backpacker who wandered through the area years ago…so she and her husband help with our original reservations, etc (in English)!

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A few kids toys went a long way…

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The kids also expressed interest in the big fire circle in the garden.

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As night fell, the kids had collected some wood, and the owner came over and started a fire for us!

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Sadly, you’ll notice our kids were playing with the iPad in the corner when this photo was taken. Grrrr. iPads should not be allowed to distract kids from the beauty of the outdoors!  (Oh, and the iPad sustained a bad fall which resulted in a cracked screen and forever-damaged corner, now. Boo hoo!)

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The night turned cold, and since we hadn’t been smart enough to figure out how to fully shut our windows before we put the kids to sleep and turned out the lights…we shivered through the night!

In the morning, I agreed to a short lesson and trial run on the motorbike. After all, motorbikes are the ideal transportation in Chiang Mai…and this was a better place to learn than in a city!

If I looked terrified…it’s because I was!

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Hmm…not too bad, I thought. Until I reached the end of the driveway and tried to turn around. I ended up nearly taking out the spirit house structure as well as a small tree (and my foot)—ouch!

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Since there were no motorbike rental employees to complain, in the morning we opted to squeeze onto the bike as a family for the 5 minute ride down the street to the Chiang Dao cave. Our bike only came with 1 helmet…ahh!

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Little vendors lined the streets leading up to the caves…selling lots of tubers. Tumeric, garlic, and…who knows??!!??

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Thai people love to oogle at Ethan, and he manages to scrounge up unexpected food from vendors who offer him freebies!  This time he received a roasted banana on a stick!

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The Chiang Dao cave is more of a temple than just a simple cave, and the property surround it is full of temples, as well.

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We walked up behind some of the temples and found ourselves in a Buddhist burial area, I believe.

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This is what monk’s laundry looks like…

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This particular temple had a wild “hand” raised above it (kinda reminded me of the long fingernails on the lady in the Chiang Mai parade! Either that…or it reminds me of the chairs at the dinner in Beetlejuice (anyone with me, there?)!

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There’s that hand again!  Ahhh!

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Buddha sitting on the mountainside.

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Vendors have little booths to sell offerings before you enter the cave. I was actually more amused by the sign…

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Honestly, I’ve read very little about Buddhists earning “merit”…but I thought it was an interesting sales tactic…to get people to earn merit by feeding the fish at the cave entrance. Needless to say the fish were so well fed that they showed little interest in the massive amounts of food floating above their heads.

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Entrance to the limestone cave costs only 40 Baht per adult. As soon as you enter, you’re greeted by a tall expanse of space (the last glimpse at the light streaming in), and Buddhist images tucked into in every nook and cranny.

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There’s a lighted path guides you deep into the cave on at no additional cost. Before doing that we decided to hire a lantern and guide (100 Baht for the lantern…100 Baht per person suggested for a “tip” for the guide), so we could go through an unlit area. Although signs indicated flashlights are absolutely not allowed, the guide was kind enough to let our kids wear the headlamps we had packed (yes, we travel with headlamps)!

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We thought it was super silly that we needed a guide, but as we wandered deep into the different caverns we realized that a guide was absolutely necessary—you would get lost without one!  Some of the “doors” were quite small and well hidden!

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Only one creepy-crawly that we saw…but I’m sure there were more…heehee…

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Ethan had a ball, and the other kids with their headlamps were hard to reign in…they were ready to explore!

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We learned a bit about stalagmite formations as the kids observed the “growing rock” from the floor!

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The guide didn’t speak English, except for pointing out rock formations here and there, saying “elephant,” “bird,” etc!

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The crew (minus Sabina, who was managing the photo-taking)!

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It’s best to wear more than flip flops, if they don’t stay too well on your feet. It can be slippery in a few spots!

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And watch out for the bats and bat poop!

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After walking through the less-traveled caves for quite awhile, we finally looped back around to the entrance, and bid our farewells to our guide…starting on our way through the lighted pathways.

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Watch out!  It’s DanQerous!!

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Okay, we gave in and let our kids throw even more food to the fish as we exited the caves. I guess we’ve earned our merits, now!

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Then, everyone waited while I did some motorbike practice for the next 15 minutes…until I was confident enough to make a right and a left turn on a traffic-less road. Whew.

We returned to our hotel and checked out, and drove into town to return our bikes and get some lunch. We learned that there was a local market (a special one that only takes place twice a month) that day…how could we resist?

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We were stuffed from lunch…but do you think that stopped us from eating some desserts?

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No tourists here!  This is more our style!

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Can someone please tell me WHAT these are?!  Anyone?!  Are they candies?

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Street food sushi, if that’s your kind of thing. I don’t believe you can get a sushi roll for less than 20 cents in the US…can you? Winking smile

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I love the natural product packaging. It really makes so much more sense!

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The couple I mentioned (her parents own the guesthouse we stayed at)—the Thai/German couple—way cute! The sell some yummy European pastries that they bake up!

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And there Ethan went again…acquiring more freebies. I’m still not sure what that was…

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We’re told they empty the eggs, make some type of new egg mixture, and pour them back in (than grill them, I believe?).

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It’s take-your-kids-to-work-day!  (Been there! Done that! But I have to admit…they’re roughing it a lot more than we ever did, though!)

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Fried quail eggs…

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This is how they get that perfect shape!

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We found our (nasty) yummy fried pastry dough again (think ball-shaped funnel cakes!). Yum…just look at that oil! Yes, we did partake…

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We also found this unique vendor selling stuffed fish pancakes. No fish involved…just some crispy sweet pancakes filled with cream of various flavors!

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We jumped on the bus, and soon after beginning our journey we were stopped for a roadside inspection. The two officials walked through checking people’s papers, but didn’t even give us a second glance. Whew!

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The End.

We had a wonderful time…and we’d love to go back!  Anyone want to come visit?!!

3 Responses to “Chiang Dao and a Cave”

  1. What an amazing adventure. Thanks for sharing all of your pictures. I, too, love to take travel pictures.I am storing mine in Facebook and Dropbox. Where are you storing all of your pictures while you travel?
    My family has never travels to Asia but it is on our list of places to go soon. My husband has been there in his Navy days but wants to return to show the boys. The caves and temples look very unique and interesting. Thanks again.

    Happy Holidays

  2. You did a great job capturing our entire experience! Love the cave photos…they are great!

    I also love the natural packaging that food in Asia comes in. It makes so much more sense to use such an abundant product instead of manmade styrofoam.

    Can’t wait for more adventures!

  3. bill smith says:

    No, Chiang Dao ist too crowded, to many tourists. The silent time is over, the cultural dissapear more and more. Thanks to the tourists who all destroy…..GOD forgive them – they dont know what they do!

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