Epic Thailand trek – How we got the kids to walk to the top of Chiang Dao mountain and back in a day.

Arranging to climb Chiang Dao mountain

By booking just a taxi to the starting point from our hotel, At Home Chiang Dao, we managed to get up onto Doi Chiang Dao without the otherwise mandatory mountain guide. We paid 200TB each to get into the national park and a staggering 1200 for the 20 min taxi return trip to the hotel but thats all.

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Between us, we have climbed quite a few mountains and with the experience of trekking with the kids in Nepal, China and Australia, we did not feel a need to hire a guide to take us to the top.

The trail is clearly marked and its not a very technical climb so although its not recommended, we were happy to go at it alone.

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We brought with us 1 pack back with us on the trek with 1st aid kit, compass, emergency whistles, head touches, pocket knife, snacks, food and 5l of water. The bag had to be as light as possible as I knew I would end up carrying it most of the way to the top, while Paul would be carrying Scott.

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A taxi picked us up at 8 o’clock and took us to the stating point of the trail just above 1000 meters altitude. As this is earlier than usual for us, the kids were both a bit grumpy when we arrived at the starting point so we were worried has to how the day would go and if we would actually make it to the top.  We have done some trekking with the kids before in Nepal… and in China and in Australia, but this would be the hardest trail so far.

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5hrs trekk to the top of Thailands 3rd highest mountain

We managed to find the kids some great walking sticks at the starting point that got the good vibes going and we were off.

To our relief the skies were overcast and the temperature cool, so Scott and Ingrid were both happy to walk for the 1st half hour or so.

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As we made our way through the dense jungle at the bottom of the mountains we had no clear view of where we were going or which peak we would actually climb but the trail was well marked and so we marched on up over the first steep pass without a problem. This time Paul was carrying Scott on his shoulders.

Earlier on in our round the world trip we did a 5 day trek around Poon Hill in Nepal, but there we had a sherpa carrying Scott in a basket when he got tired, this time it was just Paul and me. Thank goodness Paul is soo strong and positive! He carried Scott for at least 3 of the 5 hrs to the top.

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1.5 hrs into the trek we started meeting people coming down from the top so we let them all pass while we sat down for our first proper rest with a boiled egg each from our packed lunch, prepared by our guest house.

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Motivating the kids to keep walking

Time for Scott to do some walking again, this time we used music to help Scott along. By selecting and listening to music on Pauls iPhone while walking Scott tends to forget he is working hard walking up a mountain and just gets on with it, for a little while at least.

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Ingrid likes to have conversations. She and I spent a good hour talking about all my favourite holidays from when I was a kid. I enjoy telling her funny stories from my youth while she loves planning future epic adventures together with us and with her friends. These are such precious moments and I love seeing the kids in this way full of beans and chat with nothing else on my mind but the pure joy of the present time together here and now.

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Another hour later we passed through the next valley and stopped for another rest with some biscuits before starting our second big climb for the day. Here we finally got a view of the 2000m+ peaks but still had no better view of which one was Doi Chiang Dao. As energy was starting to run low we put on the next trick to keep Scotty going, racing and staying in the lead. We grouped ourselves in a boys team and a girls team and all tried to keep Scotty going by making sure he was in the lead with the girls team slowly catching up. This usually helps for another little while until Paul has to carry him again.

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When the going gets tough…

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While the steep uphill walking was starting to make me tired I’m amazed at how resilient Ingrid is.

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She never complained but kept talking about how much she loves hiking in the mountains, about our previous challenging treks in Tiger Leaping gorge in China and in Nepal. She also started to plan our next big hiking trip, in the north of Sweden the summer after next.

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1hr later, up a another steep climb, I was really starting to tire. It takes some effort to keep yourself upbeat and even more so to keep the kids going when you are flagging yourself. A little pause to reflect of the beauty of the day and the amazing opportunity of doing this spectacular hike with Paul and the children was enough to push me on.

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As we arrived at basecamp 2 at 1 o’clock we were still unsure as to what peak we were supposed to climb. We followed the most obvious trail and 30 min later up a very steep slippery path we were finally there.

Cheese sandwiches and fried frogs to celebrate our epic trek!

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A quick celebratory cheese sandwich, egg and apple and we started the long trek down again. We needed to be quick down the slippery trail to make it out of the hills before dusk.

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The first 2hr decent seemed to pass relatively quickly. Paul and Scott listened to music while Ingrid and I passed the time practicing talking Swedish. The sun was out and the mountain trail winding down through the steep mountains was just so beautiful!

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The last hour down was a real drag and we are all starting to flag by the end. We reached the bottom at 5 o’clock on the dot and took a pre-booked taxi to our favourite eatery next to our home stay, Chiang Dao Hut Kitchen where the kids were rewarded with a plate of fried frogs!!

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Chiang beer and fried rice for Paul and me followed by an early bed. What an amazing day out!

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