We were able to walk up it because the eroding limestone gave the ground a sandpaper like texture.
The purpose of this hike, however, was to visit hill tribes. These groups come from other countries and have left their homelands in search of more hospitable climates or more abundant resources among a variety of other reasons. We started off taking lunch with the Lahu, originally from southern China and Burma. The Lahu weren't wearing traditional garb or weaving, in fact some were even chatting on cell phones. They clearly weren't making any pretenses about living the same way they had for centuries or being unaffected by the modern world. Fortunately though not many tourists visit the village and thus it has retained much of its rustic charm.
We left the Lahu and hiked for a few hours before arriving in a Karen village. Although this tribe is native to Thailand and Burma, they speak neither Thai nor Burmese.
The Karen village was similar to the Lahu village in that it did not seem to be affected by tourism. Some of the older tribesmen still wore traditional clothes although these had completely vanished among younger generations. We spent the night on the floor of a Karen family's bamboo hut. Pictured below: our hosts.
The second day, we visited a number of other tribal villages. Unfortunately these were crawling with tourists who had noticeably affected the tribes. Far be it from me to criticize the tribes who are simply trying to make a buck. However, watching satellite TV at night is hardly something I associate with tribal traditions.
The real treat, however, was hiking between these tourist traps.
The bucolic hillsides of northern Thailand abound with photo opportunities.
One of the most popular reasons for visiting Chang Mai is to take a Thai massage course. Unfortunately we didn't have time for one of the longer and more intensive courses, so we learned some basics in one day.
We had a few hours before our flight out of Chang Mai and decided to check out Wat Phra Singh.
Wat Phra Singh, established in 1345, is widely acknowledged as the most impressive of Chang Mai's nearly 300 temples.
On a separate note, January 25th, the day we left Chang Mai, marked day 83 of our journey so far and thus the exact midway point of the trip.