Walk Across Thailand


Authors note: I tell the story of my walk across the north of Thailand in a soon to be released book. The timeline and mileages listed below were the plan I put together before starting out. The reality proved to be much different. My actual start date was October 24, not October 18. The rainy season in north Thailand is generally considered to end around the first of October, with the coolest and driest time of the year being from October through December. In 2010 when I started walking, Thailand was enduring record breaking rainstorms and some of the most widespread and dangerous flooding in more than 50 years. A big typhoon approached the north of Thailand in mid October, adding to the already wide spread devastation in the area of Thailand I was walking through.

This adventure walk was not intended to break any records, although nobody has ever claimed to have walked across the broadest part of Thailand before this. There were only two rules for this trek.
1. Don't break any Thai laws.
2. Don't die along the way.

At 63 years of age I have backpacked thousands of miles in a dozen different countries. My brain may be younger than my body, because the plan below proved to be a bit optimistic in some ways. I generally walked at a pace of 2 to 2 1/2 kilometers an hour while carrying the backpack. On the uphill sections this pace slowed to 1 or 1.5 kilometers an hour. A normal day during my 50 days of walking included 4 to 7 hours of hiking. But some days when I first started the walk, I could only walk an hour or two before I was wore out. The longest day of walking was the day I got lost and walked 26 kilometers the wrong way at Sukhothai.

This walk was everything I hoped it would be. I met hundreds of friendly and welcoming Thai people. These wonderful strangers gave me food, drinks and snacks time after time. Complete strangers welcomed me into their homes and there was always someone who would find a place for me to set my tent. Along the way I stopped at dozens of those small coffee stands that are everywhere in Thailand these days. These stands are usually operated by a lone female whose sons or daughters have helped her buy the equipment for her small enterprise. They pull espresso shots from a simple one head espresso machine using really excellent first rate Thai coffee from the mountains of north Thailand. This is some of the world's best coffee. They seldom spoke any English, but frequently after reading the note written in Thai that explained what I was doing, these friendly and universally poor coffee vendors would insist on buying my coffee. The generosity of the people I came across cannot be overstated. Many of the Thai people never did fully understand why anyone would choose to walk like I was doing. I'm sure some of them thought I had a screw loose in my head.

Why did I undertake this very long backpack hike? First, I had not been on a new and different solo adventure for several years. More important my lifestyle choices had allowed a once athletic body to turn fat and unhealthy. My blood pressure was too high. My blood sugar was climbing and too high. My cholesterol levels were too high. Simply put I was a mess and heading for a heart attack or stroke. My lifestyle needed a serious change of pace. The walk was a way to kick start those changes. As I write this note it is 2012 two years after I finished the walk from Khon Kaen to Mae Sot. My lifestyle has changed. The hard physical exercise combined with healthy eating habits completely reversed those bad health indicators. My blood pressure is now NORMAL for a 3o year old. My cholesterol and blood sugar are not just normal, but "GOOD".

There were a few situations along the way that had me fearful. Most, but not all of thes situations were fabrications of my mind, not real threats. The plan below shows that I planned to stop at many temples along the way. I hoped to pitch my tent somewhere in a corner of the temple property where I would have the security of mind of sleeping in a religious site. But I only ever slept on temple grounds one night. That is the chapter in the book titled Ghosts in the Temple.

The hiking portion of my adventure was done about 95% solo. Sometimes my close Thai friend, Onanong, walked with me, but most of the time I was alone. In Sukothai and Phitsanilok areas I walked alone each day, then took a bus to join Onanong for the afternoon and evening as we explored those cities together. I slept alone in my tent about half of the nights along the way. The other nights I slept in some guesthouse.

The single most important item in my backpack proved to be a bottle of IBprofen pain capsules. No morning started without one or two of those to kickstart my morning.

I invite you to read my book available on Amazon.com in June or July, 2013

SECTION ONEof the walk -
The toughest part is getting started . This section is over relatively flat ground, rice fields on both sides of the road. Many populated areas with houses, villages or towns present almost all the way. The most difficult part of completing the days with longer walks will be trying not to take too much time to stop and talk to people along the way.
October 18
10 kilometers
Khon Kaen to Ban Thum
October 19
14 kilometers
Ban Thum to Ban Fang
October 20
12 kilometers
Ban Fang to Chorakhe Nong Bua
October 21
12 kilometers
Charakhe Nong Bua to Nong Rua - Today is a long walking day with a goal of 24 kilometers.
October 22
14 kilometers
Nong Rua to Wat Thep Sirinam
October 23
October 24
9 kilometers

Wat Thep Sirinam to Pueng Kong Ma Shrine 3 kms Pueng Kong Ma Shrine to Wat Thung Chai 6 kms

October 25
10 kilometers
Wat Thung Chai to Chai So
October 26
6 kilometers
Chai So to Chum Phae
October 27
Segment one ends here
98 kilometers total
7 walking days and 2 rest days in SEGMENT ONE
SEGMENT TWO is a section of relatively flat terrain, that will gradually rise from around 200 meters up to 350 meters elevation. Houses and villages begin to spread out. Rice fields still dominate both sides of the road.
October 28
14 kilometers

Chum Phae to Non sa-at 10 kms Non Sa-at to Nun Han 4 kms

October 29
20 kilometers
Nun Han to Khon San 10 kms Khon San to Thung Phra 10 kms This is the second BIG day of walking - more than 20 k
October 30
17 kilometers
Thung Phra to Wat Pa Udomrat Ban Huai Kaep
October 31
If I maintain the schedule of this first three days of segment two I will have earned a day of rest.
November 1
15 kilometers

Wat Pa Udomrat, Ban Huai Kaep to
Wat Phu Hua Chang 5 kms Wat Phu Hua Chang to Wat Phu Khao Wong 6 kms
Wat Phu Khao Wong to Wat Huai Sanam Sai Tai 4 kms

REST DAY 67 total kilometers section two walk
4 walking days and 2 rest days in Segment twoThis segment ends the LEVEL WALKING and now begins an uphill grind climbing from about 200 meters to approximately 900 meters elevation during segment three
SEGMENT THREE: Segment Three will pass through Nam Nao Park that is said to contain Sumatran Rhinoceros as well as Tigers, Asian bears and 250 species of birds.
Wat Huai Sanam Sai Tai to the approximate halfway point at Nam Nao National Park. This is an unpopulated section of the walk that passes through several Thailand National Parks.
November 3rd

start 280 meters elevation finish day 800 meters el.

Elevation rise 520 meters Length 10 kilometers

Wat Huai Sanam Sai Tai is elevation 280 meters. The road climbs to 400 meters elevation in the next 4 kilometers. Then 2 kilometers further the elevation rises to 500 meters. Then 2 kilometers further the elevation rises to 600 meters Then 1 kilometer further the elevation rises to 700 meters Then 1 1/2 kilometers further the elevation rises to 800 meters and end of the day of walking. There is a small road that goes off to the north and that is probably where I will camp.
November 4th
start 800 meters finish 900 meters Length of walk 8 kilometers
8 kilometers and the rise is from 800 to 900 meters. This is the point where the road into Nam Nao National park is located. Take this road north about 1 kilometer to the park office and campground.
November 5, 6 & 7
After two long days of non-stop uphill hiking I will be ready to relax and look for the endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros and perhaps do some bird watching.
November 8
start elevation 900 meters end elevation 600 meters distance 22 kilometers
Depart Nam Nao National park 5 kilometers relatively level with a rise and fall from 900 to 940 meters 1 kilometer falls 100 meters to elevation of 800 meters 8 kilometers falls another 100 meters to eleveation 700 which is at Wat non Somporn 8 kilometers falls 100 meters to elevation 600 meters and this is the end of the day of walking at the Hup Pha Daeng Religious Practice Center
November 9
Start elevation 600 meters end elevation 200 meters 19 kilometers

Hup Pha Daeng Religious Practice Center to Thamphrathan Bureau of the Monks 10 kilometers
Drop in elevation during this 10 kilometers is from 600 to 200 meters or about 400 meter drop.
Thamphrathan Bureau of the Monks to Pak Duk is 9 kilometers

November 10
59 kilometers
4 walking days and 3 rest days (to explore Nam Nao Park)
SECTION FOUR: This section takes place in the mountains going downhill to Phisanilok. But the downhill contains a lot of uphill walking as the road gradually winds its way down to the rice growing flatlands again.
November 11
12 kilometers
Pak Duk to Wat Wang Bua Ban - relatively flat walk today.
November 12
16 kilometers
Wat Wang Bua Ban to Wat Huai Phu - Today involves a relatively steep uphill grade that climbs from 200 meters to 750 meters during the 16 kilometer walk.
 November 13
9 kms
Wat Huai Phu to Khaem Son 2 kms Khaem Son to Wat Pa Samakee 3 kms Wat Pa Samakee to Thung Salaeng Luang National Park office 4 kms

November 14

Rest Day
Rest Day at the Thung Salaeng Luang National Park
November 15
20 kilometers
Thung Salaeng Luang National Park to Wat Khek Yai
November 16
Rest Day
Rest day
November 17
15 kilometers
Wat Khek Yai to Wat Pong Prachatham 10 kms Wat Pong Prachatham to Wat Pa Kula Nuea 5 kms
November 8
13 kilometers
Wat Pa Kula Nuea to Kiang Sopha 6 kms Kiang Sopha to Wat Sap Priam 2 kms Wat Sap Priam to Rain Forest Resort 5 kms
November 19
18 kilometers
Rain Forest Resort to Wat Ban Bo Wanaram 5 kms Wat Ban Bo Wanaram to Chai Nam 13 kms
November 20
Rest day
Rest day
November 21
16 kilometers
Chai Nam to Wang Thong 11 kms Wang Thong to Wat Si Sopon 5 kms
November 22
14 kilometers
Wat Si Sopon to Phitsanulok at River crossing
November 23 & 24
2 Rest Days
Rest Days U.S.A. Thanksgiving Holiday on 24th
End of segment 4
133 kilometers
9 walking days & 5 rest days
Segment 5 - The last section to walk in 2010.This section goes uphill again to the mountain range that borders along Myanmar. This is an area of steep uphill and downhill walks. The really delicious Muser coffee is grown in this region by the Muser hill tribes.
November 25
12 kilometers
Phitsanulok – Ban Krang
November 26
12 kilometers
Ban Krang to Wat Wang Pladuk
November 27
19 kilometers
Wat Wang Pladuk to Wat Mai Pho Thong 7 kms Wat Mai Pho Thong to Ban Mai Suk Kasem 7 kms Ban Mai suk kasem to Wat Si Muang 5 kms
November 28
18 kilometers
Wat Si Muang to Kong Krailat 3 kms Kong Krailat to Wat Insi Sisanvorn 7 kms Wat Insi Sisanvorn to Sukhothai Chinese Cemetery 8 kms
November 29
9 kilometers
Sukhothai Chinese Cemetery to Wat Krachongkaram 4 kms Wat Krachongkaram to Sukhothai Downtown 5 kms
November 30
Rest Day
Rest Day
December 1
13 kilometers
Sukhothai Downtown to Ban Kluai 6 kms Ban Kluai to Wat Ban Na 7 kms
December 2
18 kilometers
Wat Ban Na to Mueang Kao 12 kms Mueang Kao to Ban Dan 6 kms
December 3
15 kilometers
Ban Dan to Wat Wang Takhro 11 kms Wat Wang Takhro to Nong Ya Plong 4 kms
December 4
Rest Day
Rest day
December 5
19 kilometers
Nong Ya Plong to Wat Pong Khae 8 kms Wat Pong Khae to Wat Wang Prachuap 11 kms
December 6
13 kilometers
Wat Wang Prachuap to Nam Ruem
December 7
10 kilometers
Nam Ruem to Tak at the River crossing
End of Segment Five
158 kilometers
11 walking day and 3 rest days
Total 515 kilometers & 50 days
35 walking days and 15 rest days
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