If I ever stop and wonder why I choose to live in North Thailand, I only need to get in the car or on the motorbike and go exploring the Northern hills. There's a wonderland out there that just begs to be discovered, and last week I took a couple of days out with friends to hike up Doi Mon Chong, which is located in Om Koi Wildlife Sanctuary, about 200km south of Chiang Mai. It's one of the most remote areas of Chiang Mai Province, and the only habitation around there consists of a few villages of the Lahu and Karen minority groups.
Because the area is under the protection of the National Parks Department, we had to contact the local ranger and make arrangements for a guide to drive us to the trailhead, then walk up with us to the campsite near the summit, and lead us back down the next day. We also hired a couple of local Lahu porters, dressed in wild pyjamas, who carted our heavy gear such as water, food and tents, in huge bamboo backpacks.