I read about the Canyon on other blogs when I was searching for somewhere to swim in Chiang Mai. My reward for this was one of the best spots to swim I have ever been to in my life. That is saying something. I am a water baby. I seek water to play in wherever I go. Family and friends and who know me well would never suggest a pool, and are prepared to wait for at least an hour as I release the inner fish in, on and under whatever body of water I deem good enough to swim in. The Canyon (as locals know it by) is in fact an old quarry, with steep sides, beautiful clean fresh water and is very deep. This is not a place for non-swimmers. The cliffs surrounding it are perfect for jumping off as there are no hiddens rocks or logs or anything that can kill you on impact, but there is nowhere to climb out – you have to swim. There are various heights ranging from 1m to approx 10m – but 1m up feels like 1m from the top, 10m up feels like 100m. This is exponential ie 2m looks like 4, 3m looks like 9 and so on and so forth. I’m quite brave. I used to think I was really brave but now I know that’s not true, maybe it’s an age or sense of mortality thing (everyone knows teenagers are bullet proof) but as I get older, I get warier. That said, I had no problems jumping off the 6m, in fact we were on the opposite side to the popular jumping spots watching a bunch of pussys (men) milling around aimlessly for ages, looking over the side, but not actually accomplishing much. So I swam across, scrambled up the side and joined them. One lad was looking sort of likely so I asked him if he was going to jump, “yes” he said, “are you?” “Yes” I replied and went to the side and jumped off. Well, when my head broke the surface they were all peering over clapping, I tried to bow but only succeeded in putting my face in the water so that may have been lost in translation. I swam back across where we all continued to watch them mill around some more in obvious consternation because the old, fat chick had pretty much put them all to shame. Mission successfully completed. We stayed for a couple of hours until a thunderstorm started moving in from the north, awesome lightning and stupendous thunderclaps getting closer and closer until finally one hit so close it made the ground shake, and there was a sudden mass exodus away from the water. Boiled tourist anybody? Would you like fries with that? We decided not, so jumped on our scooters and headed home. A few days later we revisited with the lovely kiwi lasses we’d met at our hostel – Jenna and Rhiannon. This time I was determined to do “The Big One”. We started at the 6m, no sweat, definitely ready for “The Big One”. We climbed to the top and looked over the edge, this was where the problems began – it was really freaking high. None of us could quite bring ourselves to launch (Jenna wasn’t even keen on the edge), so after a quick discussion we decided we needed an interim height so clambered back down and over to the 8m cliff. After a quick heart attack and prayer (to any, and all gods who would listen) I jumped before I could back out. I hit the water like the sleek wee missile I’m not, my boobs thumped upwards and nearly knocked me out whilst my shorts wedged themselves so far up I was almost able to use them to floss. I thought I better do it again in preparation for “The Big One”. I did, with much the same result except I crossed my arms over my chest in order to protect my double chins from further harm. After flossing again I determined that “The Big One” was not going to be conquered by me today, or any time soon, and went for a lovely relaxing floaty swim instead.
Directions to The Canyon (ripped from somebody else’s blog – thanks http://travelnorthernthailand.wordpress.com)
“The Hang Dong rock quarry is about a 40 minute bike / songthaew drive from Chiang Mai, heading south along the canal road highway (Hwy 121) from Huay Kaew road and keep driving until you are about 10 minutes past Hang Dong. Keep your eye out for the green HANG DONG GOLF COURSE sign and turn right on the small bridge directly after the PT gas station on your left hand side. Follow the road until it forks, and be sure to take the left fork. Allow for at least five hours including the drive and full enjoyment of the day. Enjoy!”