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Samoeng Loop

Samoeng Forest

We continued on after we had our fill of the waterfall, but decided to skip all the animal attractions that lay just after (snake farm, elephant camp, and monkey world) as the cruelty that non-domesticated animals face in these kinds of attractions is just not something that we endorse. We made our way along the windy road instead, constantly bracing ourselves each and every time a truck passed at high speed as the wind from them rocked our motorbikes. We also gave wide berths each time we encountered a bend in an attempt to avoid the precarious, loose gravel that tends to accumulate at the outsides of curves. Eventually, hunger pangs began to hit, so we stopped by a restaurant and decided to split the costs of two dishes between the four of us (THB90 per person). Since we had been on the road for a while, we decided to take our time and enjoy the plush seats, air-conditioning and wi-fi.

Well fed and eager to continue on, we continued along the windy road. The weather seemed quite capricious, throwing a little bit of everything at us--intermittent rain and drizzle, beams of sunlight piercing through the cloud-cover, and sudden and unpredictable mist. The change was so sudden that when the bright sunlight hit the road, dazzling beams would reflect back at us off the rain-soaked roads. Soon after, we encountered a sign that stated 'Samoeng Forest'. There was no forest though, just a viewpoint along the road that overlooked one. The forest-filled valley down below was made so much more dramatic by the heavy clouds that quickly rolled on by, clouds that would stay with us for the rest of the trip. Rays of sunlight would occasionally manage to find gaps in the clouds to periodically light up the saddles and valley, producing a shifting spectacle that showcased the power of the elements.

Overlooking Samoeng Forest


Mae Sap Cave

We were forced to continue on to make the most of the dwindling sunlight, but decided to make a quick detour towards the town of Samoeng to visit the Mae Sap Cave before heading back to Chiang Mai.

Directions

To get to Mae Sap Cave, you need to take a right at the sign-filled junction, where the 1096 road meets 1269. Turning left here will take you to the Hang Dong district and back to Chiang Mai. From that right turn, continue along the road towards the town of Samoeng until you reach another junction that lies right next to the Samoeng Hospital. Turn right here (also the way to the party-town of Pai) and continue along the 1349 road for a couple of minutes as it heads northwards and then north-west, before it bends sharply to the left. The turning to the Mae Sap Cave is on the left just one kilometre from that bend in the road.

Getting to Mae Sap Cave

We turned off the road and onto a dirt path that lead straight down to a wooden structure. The structure itself seemed to be unoccupied except for a dog and her two puppies. There didn't seem to be any box or anything for fees of any sort so we just parked our motorbikes at the side and began walking up to the cave. The cave was quite impressive, not in size but in its 'atmosphere' and authenticity. Too many caves nowadays are festooned with artificial lights, rendering them ostentatious and somewhat gaudy. This one however was still in its natural state except for the introduced plants and statues that decorated the entrance.

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The statues and 'garden' at the cave entrance

We had a quick look at the smaller cave that had Buddha statues inside its small cavern before walking up to the statue at the entrance of the main cave. There was a myriad of plants that lined the cave entrance behind the statue that were obviously planted there by somebody and plenty of light from a huge sinkhole just above that lit up the main cavern.

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As we continued to explore the cave system, we found another section of the cave that was linked up from behind. Bats (Order: Chiroptera) were ubiquitous here, so we quietened down and took extra care to not disturb them. The limestone pillars and the cave draperies and flowstones that extruded from the walls kept us fascinated. I am always in awe at the amazing shapes that the deposits of calcite form and some of the huge masses that are suspended from the ceilings almost seem to defy gravity.

There was a ladder that lead to an upper platform and an opening that lay just after that brought us back outside and behind the cave. There was not much daylight left by that point so we hopped back onto our motorbikes and made our way back to the junction that brought us back onto the Samoeng Loop. This time we turned right and began to head straight back to Chiang Mai. Darkness descended down upon us fairly quickly and with it came all the flying insects. As you can imagine, this wasn't a good thing considering that our helmets had no visors!

*Dinner that night cost THB90 and the total cost for petrol for the journey was THB100.

Expenditure

End of Day 7 Expenditure (THB)

Transportation : 99

Food : 230

Accommodation : 0

Entrance Fees : 110

Petrol : 100

Miscellaneous : 500

TOTAL (THB)

Total

: 329

: 1092

: 625

: 110

: 100

: 510

: 2766 

Next: Chiang Mai Day 08 – Doi Inthanon