Well, it’s that time of year again. My wife and I have just made our annual migration south to Thailand to escape the harsh Mongolian winter, and for the next five months I’ll be locked away in our small studio apartment in Bangkok, staring blankly at a keyboard while my more fortunate wife swims, cycles and generally gets to be a lot more active than me.
It can be a tricky life, writing for a living. My office is my bedroom, and all too many days can pass without any activity beyond falling out of bed and into my chair. After just a few weeks in Bangkok my waistline has already begun its inexorable expansion, and I dread to look at myself in a mirror (good Lord, how I hate those moments when I catch my reflection in a window unexpectedly on the street).
This year, though, I refuse to bow to the calories. Next week we’re going to take a well earned break and head up north to Chiang Mai. We fell in love with the city while living there for four months last year, and while I look forward to seeing my friends there’s something else drawing me back: Doi Inthanon national park.
The park is a hiker’s paradise. Empty of tourists for much of the year; stunningly beautiful for all of it, and packed with hiking trails that take you by awe-inspiring secluded waterfalls. I just can’t wait.
Unfortunately I’m not exactly prepared for the clammy cold at the top of the mountain. Thailand is oppressively hot in most places, but the 8,000 foot peak of Doi Inthanon can be positively bracing a times.
So, yesterday I went shopping. I ignored the laptop and pressures of work to troll around the streets of Bangkok in search of an outdoor supplies shop. A couple of hundred dollars later I’m fully kitted out for a trek up the mountain.
My biggest purchase was my Berghaus Mera Peak, a lightweight GORE-TEX jacket my British friends rave about. I’d never heard of the company, but apparently they’re huge in Europe. I’ve no idea if the jacket is any good (and, for the price I paid, I suspect that mine may be fake), but it looks great and I can’t wait to get out on the mountain in it.
What I’m most excited about, though (if excited is a suitable word), is my new natural mosquito repellent. I tend to have an unpleasant reaction when I use chemical repellent that includes DEET, but it’s all I’ve been able to find so far on the trip. Yesterday I found a weird little herbal store on Sukhumvit that sells natural repellent, and by all accounts it’s pretty effective.
Anyhoo, I’ll be hitting the town tonight, intentionally visiting a bar I know to be swarming with mosquitoes. If I make it home relatively bite free I’ll be ready for the mountain. If not… well, I kinda enjoy scratching anyway.
Category: outdoor sports