The weather up here in the North is a bit unpredictable when it comes to rain. It tends to arrive very quickly, is usually pretty local and doesn’t last that long. In general the mornings and early afternoons are dry and the day builds to huge threatening rain clouds that sometime just blow over and other times deliver a real tropical downpour.
Having been here two weeks I am obviously now an expert and based on my observation of this weather pattern I decided that a trip to a waterfall called Khun Korn a few minutes down the road from us was in order and that the morning would be the optimum time to go. By the way Thais call a waterfall a “waterdown” in the same way they call sunset “sundown” and ice “hard water” – all makes easier than making up new words to complicate life.
Khun Korn waterfall is one of the mid-popular scenic attractions in Trip Advisor (13 out of 28 in Chiang Rai attractions). A lower rating is sometimes a good thing because it keeps the tourist away and some of TA’s ratings are really weird.
We arrived at the parking area around 10.00 am and were the only ones there. Drove past an information booth expecting to be asked to pay an entrance fee but this time a free pass.
When you do visit Khun Khon can I give you a little insiders tip? The main path is one running past the toilets on the left not the one turning right from the bridge as shown in the photo below. See this bridge turn left.
Having said that if you do go right you will end up in the same place, back on the main path to the falls. You also get to criss-cross the stream on these rickety rattan bridges, which gives you a minor Raiders of the Lost Ark adventure experience. One slip and it’s all over.
Once on the main path you have a 1.4 km walk to the falls through tropical forest. A couple of spirit houses sit at the start of the walk, whether in memory of those who fell on the way or to appease any spirits upset as a result of the path’s construction and subsequent tourist invasion I don’t know.
The expected brighter weather didn’t materialise, which was a shame because the vivid greenery would have been much more prominent and spectacular if it had.
Lots of huge bamboo clumps growing along the way. The small new shoots are harvested (not here) and you see them in roadside stalls and local markets ready to be steamed and eaten. There is a whole row of these stalls midway between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, which specialise in these bamboo shoots and bags of lemons for some reason.
As you approach the waterfall you get some encouragement to hang in there – only 400 meters to go. Had the sun been out it would have been a lot more humid and you might be pleased to see the end in sight.
The falls themselves were reasonably full as we had rain the night before but not Niagara Falls special. The overall experience was worth the effort.
It was at this point the sky darkened and we hurried back before the rain arrived. Met a bunch of fairly unhappy looking tourists coming the other way who either hadn’t been told the distance to reach the falls or realised they were about to get wet. The Thai guides, one of whom had dressed for the occasion, were in much better spirits. I guess they had been paid no matter what the outcome and getting wet is a regular event for Thais.
The rain did arrive but just before we ended our walk so we didn’t get too wet. It’s always warm rain so no big problem.
The afternoon then did opposite path to normal just to spite me and ended up being wonderfully sunny. Had we gone to the waterfall then………
Deciding to take advantage of this unusual bright spell we headed off to see a Doi, which I had researched on Google maps and wanted to visit because it had great views over the Chiang Rai valley. A Doi is a temple and so is a Wat. The difference is that a Doi is temple on a hill, usually with a long flight of steps leading up to it, while a Wat is at ground level. If you want a view go to a Doi.
The reason research was necessary, as it is when wanting to go to any particular location in Thailand, because the sign-posting is usually woeful. In the case of this Doi there is a helpful sign coming out of Chiang Rai that says it is in 2.5 km. Unfortunately that’s the last hint you get and as getting there involves a tangle of small Sois (streets) you have Buckley’s chance of finding it unless you know where to turn.
Google street view showed me that the turn just after the red Total banners on a street shop was the way to go and so it proved.
Just as you turn off the main road (route 1211), which is nothing special, you drive past a good sized lake with a parkland surrounding it and a few eating places. Unexpected as you’d never know it was there from the main road. Worth a stop off next time it’s dry.
Once again Buddhist temples can be a total mish-mash of everything collected over the generations all mixed in together. As a man who mostly prefers order in my life, even in my spiritual life, it can be a bit puzzling. Maybe an overwhelming of the senses by so much stuff forces a retreat into inner peace – who knows!
The monk was in residence and we had the opportunity to say hello and get a blessing. They are often around if you want to sit down for a chat. A donation is appreciated.
Many temples seem to have an animal theme to them. This one obviously had a connection with cows because they were scattered around keeping an eye on things.
The view was worth the effort and gave us a wonderful warning of the rain clouds that were quickly rolling in for the only reason that I was out sightseeing.
So despite the weather fooling me it ended up being a mixed day of touristy activity and well worth the effort.
Thanks for reading.