Such Great Heights


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June 14th 2008
Published: July 25th 2008
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Since I am not the biggest fan of great heights (but jumped out of a plane several months ago thanks to the effective persuasion techniques used by Doug and Slattery), I figured I might as well go rock climbing. I mean, I am in a developing country on the opposite side of the globe from home so it must be a good idea, right? Well, it turned out to be a great one even though I am not sure which was more questionable: them letting me climb fully aware that my previous climbing experiences were playgrounds in elementary school and the gates at the local pools OR me not thinking twice about it. From the rush of getting to the top to the views once you are up there to getting both feet back safely on the ground, it was amazing.

When Phil (my English friend who climbed with me) and I signed up for the class, we figured we would do a couple several meter climbs and then maybe one long climb to end the day. Nope. Instead, we had two 25-meter climbs (roughly 80-feet), then abseiled 55 meters into a cave (roughly 180-feet), and after lunch we had three more 25-meter climbs. I have no clue what the French grading system means, but we did two 5A climbs, a 5B, 5C, and 6A (noticeably the hardest and the drizzling didn't help). It was a great workout to say the least. I am not sure if I was sweating so much because of the heat, the physical stress, or the fact that I was literally hanging by a thread. I am definitely going to do this again.

This was all done in the outskirts of Chiang Mai, which is the largest city in northern Thailand. Unlike most large cities, I really enjoyed my time here. While there were the masses of people and cars, it felt a lot more spread out and had a much more friendly vibe. There was much to like. Cheap rooms. Good restaurants. Nice locals. Plenty to do. I did not do any trekking here because I just spent a month in Nepal, but this is a great place for that as well.

I decided to keep heading north and was off to Pai for a couple of days (might as well keep trying to get closer to Burma). Pai is a small
On My Way to the TopOn My Way to the TopOn My Way to the Top

That speck at the top is yours truly.
and very low key town. Aside from renting a motor bike to see the surrounding areas, searching for waterfalls, checking out the temples, and relaxing, there wasn't much to do, but was exactly what I was looking for.

After that, I decided I was ready to move past Thailand so I was off to Chiang Khong (stalled slightly by some protesters) for a night and then the slow boat into Laos...





Additional photos below
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View from the ClimbView from the Climb
View from the Climb

This was when we started.
View from the ClimbView from the Climb
View from the Climb

This was at the end of the day. The mountain in the distance seemed to look like a volcano erupting. This meant it was time to leave soon. Even though it is the "rainy season," it usually would only rain during dusk.
My InstructorMy Instructor
My Instructor

He heads up before our first climb.
AbseilingAbseiling
Abseiling

Phil coming down into the cave.
Post-AbseilingPost-Abseiling
Post-Abseiling

Me and Phil.
Post-ClimbPost-Climb
Post-Climb

Just a little dirty.
Market in PaiMarket in Pai
Market in Pai

Machetes? Or maybe a white board to teach your toddler how to spell?
Parking StructureParking Structure
Parking Structure

A little different than parking at The Shrine or PN.
Following a BritFollowing a Brit
Following a Brit

They drive on the left side of the street in Thailand so I figured I might follow somebody who is used to it to start. This is through the countryside where we hit a dead end (a river was formed the night before) and ran into a couple of Thai guys sporting machetes and shotguns. Luckily, they were friendly.
Looking Down on PaiLooking Down on Pai
Looking Down on Pai

The view from Wat Pra That Mae Yen (aka "The Temple with a View").
Pre-SkypePre-Skype
Pre-Skype

Things have changed a bit.
Red Sky in PaiRed Sky in Pai
Red Sky in Pai

The very beginning of my night shots. They do get better.
Thai/Laos Border CrossingThai/Laos Border Crossing
Thai/Laos Border Crossing

Only the beginning of my time with the Mekong River.


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