It’s the Norwegian constitution day. The most important day of the year for any Norwegian. It’s a day filled with children’s parades, ice cream, traditional costumes and self gloating about the fact that we’re Norwegian. We love to love it.
This year it’s gonna be a little bit different. We get on the bike and drive to the meeting point for today’s hike. It’s based on the exploration we did on Wednesday, but altered to exclude the bushwacking we did in the end. It’s good to get a few km on the bike before we head out on the longer tour. It’s a nice ride and it cruises OK up to eighty km/h. It still feels it is one gear short as the rpm is a bit too high at that speed. I did try to shift up several times during the ride. It’s good in suspension, seat and balance, but naturally lacks the torque with its 200cc. There’s a lot of gear shifting whenever there’s a uphill.
We briefly stop by the meeting point to say hello and to leave our bags in Mike’s car. They still wait for the last stragglers to show up while we move it to Doi Radar. We don’t drive as fast as the cars so it’s good for us with a head start.
When we reach the Doi there’s already two cars there. Janet is with us today and Andrew with his son Alexander. Soon after our arrival the rest of the cars come in one by one. There’s a few newbies today, among them two American girls. We saddle up, and around twenty people set out into the jungle.
From last Sunday Ed, Bruce, Steven, Karel, Vladimir and Goy was there. From the exploration trek Karel, Ging, Vladimir, Janet and Mike were present. So we suddenly knew most of the hikers. A good feeling.
We started out in good tempo and when we reached the first top the American girls were already tired. We are to go up and down four more on the total trek, so there’s a lot more coming.
Steven, a Irish hiker older than us led ahead with an amazing speed. At one point we had a break and waited for the rest he claimed he had sweated out all the cheap whiskey from yesterday. Now he would start working on the good stuff from yesterday’s binge. He continued to lead on and the three of us was in front most of the way. We had a few stops where everyone got in before the first started moving out again. Among them on the top where the Thai flag is raised.
At the top where we had a snack last time we also stopped and waited for the rest. It’s a top with a beautiful view of the jungle. It’s truly amazing and we’re happy to be able to do this. Then the bees arrived.
I don’t know if any on the group kicked the hive but they were plentiful and very eager to drink our sweat. They landed anywhere they could get a taste of it. On us and on our backpacks. Katja has a story from childhood that includes kicking up Hornets nests. These bees are noting like the wasps in that matter, but the buzzing and crawling when they settle on you is bad enough. At first we thought it was just us that was bothered, but it turned out everyone was. We grabbed our packs and moved out. With Steven in front we gained good ground and stopped at the place we had lunch on Wednesday. That was the target fort today’s hike. Four of us sat there waiting until one from the group behind came and informed us they did lunch down at a lower ridge. We went down to them as we did a live version of the national anthem of Norway. Well down to the other group we had to do an encore. They had heard us coming down but wanted the live version. In celebration of 17th of May we happily agreed. Luckily without being filmed. When this is written I understand Katja filmed us on the first performance so it is made eternal anyway.
The rest of the group, or most of the rest of the group, are having lunch together. The American girls, Andrew and Alexander in addition to a couple of the new faces stayed at the top with the bees. Katja gets shivers just thinking about it and express real concern for them.
We climb back up, probably today’s heaviest climb, and that says a lot. Steven is leading as always and when we get to the top there’s no one there. The bees are just as active though.
Bees are really good guys and won’t sting unless cornered. They die when they do it so as long as you don’t meet the suicide squad you should be OK. I unfortunately got a bee stick under the harness of my backpack and it stung me. It’s not painful really, at least not compared to the crazy pain I had in Myanmar when I got stung in Bagan. But it’s enough to feel it’s time to go.
We head down the trail towards Doi Radar and wave to the people coming up on the ridge and into the bees. We keep a good pace until the rain start. Katja has been grumpy that she didn’t bring the long pants on this hike. That will never happen again. When the long grass became wet and clinged to our thighs as we walked downhill it became even more apparent to her. Luckily we had the jackets and got them on to keep the rain out.
One of our fellow hikers told us that :”if you don’t like the weather in Chiang Mai just wait ten minutes.,” That was just about how long it rained. Jackets off again, as it gets warm with the temperature and humidity. Steven stayed behind to take care of the American girls for this last stretch. They were both really beat and I think it gave them a little comfort to have an old dog like Steven showing them down.
Back down we had to wait for the others as we had placed our helmets in Mike’s car in case of rain. I guess we had about half an hour before the last came in. A after hire picture was taken and we got back on the bike and drove back home.
The drive was a “on and off with jackets” kind of drive. It rained, stopped, rained, stopped most of the way. We made it back though a little wet, but not to bad.
We used the bathtub in the room to cool down a little. It’s outside and we filled it with only “cold” water. There’s really no such thing here, but it’s colder than the hot water.
We used a tuk-tuk to take us to a pizza place, but it turned out to be closed on Sundays. Not cool. We met as guy there that really talks up the pizza place so wet have to come back here. He sends us to a Mexican restaurant instead and Katja celebrated the constitution day with a pitcher of margaritas. The food was excellent and we got just a little tipsy the both of us. We skipped the Sunday market and got in another tuk-tuk, stopped by the laundry to pick up our laundry and headed home.
A long and different 17th of May indeed. In the room we saw pictures of friends and family dressing up and getting ready to celebrate the day. It’s not that it gives us any home sickness, but it’s good to see our friends and know we have a good extended family to come back to.