March 17, 2008 Riders: Silverhawk (Dave Early) Davidfl ( David Unkovich) Bikes: Suzuki DR650se, Honda Africa Twin 750 Destination: Wat Tham Pa Are Cha Tong (north of Chiang Rai) The Golden Horse Temple There is a legend of a fighting monk (called “The Tiger Monk”) who lives in the Monastery of the Golden Horse. This monk allegedly gave up a successful boxing career, some 16 years ago, and took up the calling of the monkhood to start this remote temple. He fought and held off Khun Sa and his men until they relented and supported his teachings. He trains young orphans, Nens, in boxing and horseback riding. After hearing this tale I had to find the temple…… Just two of us set out to traverse this valley in the heart of Thailand’s Golden Triangle. We planned to search out and somehow persevere long enough to reach this remote pinnacle in the jungle. Armed with little information, and our thoughts filled with the legends, we bravely turn off the beaten path and headed into this notorious area. 200 meters past the Nam Mae Kham River we made our turn into the unknown. :twisted: OK, you take Highway 1 to Mae Kham, go past the river and turn left .at the sign. In the distance we could see the ghostlike silhouettes of the craggy limestone cliffs. We ventured onward winding our way through the valleys and skimming through the shadows of the towering peaks, always wondering if we are being watched and by who. What dangers await us? Then, there it is! An ominous path crossing the river and shooting skyward bids us to continue. I dare not stop for a photo. :twisted: 7.5km from Hwy 1 turn left at the sign and cross the bridge. Follow the dirt and concrete road. We approach cautiously as the legend says the gateway is guarded by a huge Golden Stallion who will kick and stomp to death anyone attempting to enter. :twisted: Go past the signs and under the overhead gate to the tour bus parking area. An echoing beating of the bell and a piercing call of their master beckons the young and fierce Nens. How will they greet us? The excitement in their faces is evident and the chilling stares penetrate to your spine. Guarded by figures of all types this must be a truly magical place. A short distance below we can see where these notorious fighters dedicate themselves to their boxing and defensive skills. We manage to locate the herd of stallions. As I approach the leader it instantly strikes out with its flaming hooves and I only avoid a horrendous injury by inches . :twisted: Well, It did try to kick me. I bid farewell to the temple, but on my own I venture farther up the mountain …. There towering above me is the Stupa and the hidden caves. A path is evident and begs to be climbed. Aching to explore further I must wait until I am accompanied by a soul braver than my current partner. :twisted: What, it was 38 degrees celsius (101 f). As I ride still higher, my journey comes to an end as I dare not venture any further. :twisted: Because I just rode into the middle of a Thai motorcycle enduro event being held in the area and I was in the middle of the course. And so the legend will be passed from generation to generation……… *The road and waypoint (N20 13 34.4 E99 48 25.9) also is shown on the Esri GPS map of Thailand. It will be on Davidfl’s new map of the Golden Triangle. My Source Fighting Monks of the Golden Horse Temple Little Buddha Documentary OK, so it wasn’t the adventure we had hoped for. But if you want a short ride from Chiang Mai and want to go to one of those places you can say “been there, done that” this isn’t bad. It is really not too impressive but more on the *strange* side of the pendulum. I will go back to climb up and see what the caves and stupa are about (some nice middle aged Thai lady told me about how nice the walk was and she wasn’t even perspiring!). Perhaps in the cold season…….