Khun Chang Kian
When I first heard about Thailand sakura, I was excited and a bit skeptical. They looked SO pretty but are the pictures for real?
Bukan kita tak tahu ada sites yang pakai gambar tempat lain untuk promote destinasi berbeza. Betul ke sakura Thailand cantik macam dalam gambar yang ditunjukkan?
Kebetulan, I dah nekad nak pergi berjalan in January. I pun buat research tempat yang best untuk dikunjungi bulan January dan Chiang Mai adalah antara destinasi yang tersenarai.
It is recommended to visit Chiang Mai in December or January for it is "winter" season. Of course there is no snow but the temperature is colder even though the sky is sunny.
Orang Malaysia boleh bayangkan suhu di Cameron Highland. Matahari terik tapi sejuk berangin. Yang bestnya bukan setakat di kawasan tinggi, tapi di dalam bandar juga. Kalau pagi-pagi tu, suhu mencecah 16º - 18ºC. Cuma bila keluar berjalan-jalan, sila pakai sunblock sebab matahari tetap terik menjelang tengahari dan petang.
Getting to Khun Chang Kian
It is up in Doi Suthep. Doi means mountain but some people actually meant a famous temple there when they talk about Doi Suthep. The temple is called Wat Phra That and tour packages will include this place because it has nice view of Chiang Mai town. It is also easy to get to Doi Suthep using Uber or public transport.
If you are customising your tour and they don't drive to Khun Chang Kian, ask to be dropped at Bhuping Palace instead of the temple. The palace is further up the mountain past the temple and it is probably cheaper to get a songthaew from here.
Dah sampai Doi Suthep, boleh berhenti dulu di Wat Phra That atau terus naik ke Bhuping Palace. I naik terus ke Bhuping Palace sebab lebih berminat dengan nature view berbanding view bandar. Depan Bhuping Palace ada songthaew yang akan bawa pengunjung ke Khun Chang Kian.
Is it necessary to hire a songthaew?
The road condition isn't the best. It is narrow, full of potholes, dusty and missing altogether at some area. Don't risk it. Hire an experienced private driver if you must. Some are willing to drive up to Khun Chang Kian.
The rate displayed was 150B one way per person. There's a camping ground there and some *might* choose to hike down so that's why they offered one way rate. Return trip is 300B per person and while it is not cheap, I thought it was fair considering the scary road and the distance. The bone-jarring ride took almost half an hour.
Mula-mula, I macam menyesal sikit sebab tak minta kurang. 300B seorang bukannya murah. Lagi pun, I pergi hujung bulan Januari dan drivers songthaew tu sendiri yang cakap yang bunga dah tak banyak.
They can't speak English well so one of the drivers pointed to Khun Chang Kian picture on their rates board and gestured that only 10% of flowers left. The rest had fallen. It was so cute!
Bagus la kan dia jujur cakap bunga dah tak ada. Sebenarnya ada je lagi cuma tak banyak. Mungkin untuk elakkan kena marah dengan pelancong yang expect bunga pink merata-rata.
Anyway once I realised how far Khun Chang Kian is and how skilful one need to be to negotiate the winding and bumpy road, I thought the price was worth it. Practically sabung nyawa kut nak drive ke atas tu.
According to my private driver, Amie, the flowers started blooming in early January this year. The exact time varies each year so you might want to check with a local or time your visit in middle of the month maybe. Idk.
Pada I cantik je walaupun bukan tengah-tengah musim semi. Macam awal musim gugur gitu. Lagipun, I datang sebab nak tengok Chiang Mai Flower Festival =D
Our first stop was at a village. Only a couple of trees had flowers still blooming. There were some souvenirs and coffee shops in the area but they were mostly empty. One lady opened a simple stall selling strawberries in cup.
I didn't stay long in the village because I get uncomfortable visiting attractions which are actually people's homes.
Rasa macam ganggu privasi pun ada.
The next stop was a park we had passed on our way to the village. I think it is the research institute.
Kat taman ni masih ada banyak lagi bunga. Ada orang jual strawberries juga. Murah tapi macam banyak je untuk I makan sorang. So I tak jadi beli walaupun nampak menarik.
I told the songthaew driver that I want to stop at the view point. Not sure if it is one of the stops but it was our last stop. If you want to stop somewhere in particular, let's say the Hmong Village or the castle ruin, bring pictures to show them.
Kalau ada gambar kan senang sikit sebab mungkin kita tak tahu nama atau sebut pun salah. Yang penting, nego harga awal-awal supaya masing-masing puas hati. Macam Hmong Village tu, masuk simpang lain jadi mungkin harga pun berbeza.
Expect to spend at least a couple of hours here. If you plan to visit most of the attractions in Doi Suthep, you can easily make it a full day-trip. Take your time and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Datang waktu pagi supaya ada cukup masa untuk jelajah tempat-tempat menarik di Doi Suthep. Sejam dua mungkin tak cukup kalau nak pergi semua tempat.
So, plan wisely and prioritise your interests!