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The Sleeping Lady Legend

There is something you should know about a fascinating area just north of Chiangrai. A place of mystery, story or legend? Maybe you would like to decide for yourself so go take a look and ponder on the Legend of the Sleeping Lady.

If you drive north from Chiangrai, on the main road to Mae Sai and just after Mae Chan, you will see a most unusual mountain landscape on your left hand side. You will see at once that the formation is that of a lady, reclining on her back, gazing forever at the clouds and stars as they slip by. This is the Sleeping Lady whose tale is one of heartbreak, despair and tragedy. Assuredly true because the lady had been roaming the length and breadth of the land in search of her long lost husband. After walking for days, weeks and months she was in a state of total collapse so lay down in flat pasture land so that she might rest and sleep. It was a slumber from which she never awoke because the surrounding countryside, in sympathy with her heartache, rose up and took her to its bosom in an embrace which has lasted to this very day!

So now you have the background to Doi Naang Norn (Mountain of the Sleeping Lady) and a trip around her resting place is something very different. There are waterfalls (Naam Tok) and ponds and caves (Tuhm) and wildlife all different and all fascinating. Tuhm Luang (Big Cave) runs to the heart of the mountain for more than seven kilometers and covers 20,000 square meters. Inside this cave a cool stream meanders and stalagmites rear up to greet their partners coming down. In contrast, Tuhm Phra is a small cave wherein sits a Buddha image and this cave is sometimes favored by a local monk for meditation.

Other caves to explore are Tuhm Ling (Monkey Cave), Tuhm Liang Pae (Cave of Goats). Tuhm Multiga Thaewee, Tuhm Phraya Nark and system bedded with fine sand and studded with many stalagmites and stalactites. The Cave of Goats is lovely because its constant moisture content makes it a good habitat for small animals. You may see dainty chamois antelope in the vicinity. And, in Tuhm Multiga Thaewee, you can see a magnificent stalactite which has formed itself into a Naga that supernatural serpent so meaningful to Thai tradition and mythology. Or is it a Naga which has taken the form of a stalactite?

The picturesque lake, at the head of the Sleeping Lady, is called Khun Naam Naang Norn and, from it, a lovely, clear water stream wanders away. From what would be our Sleeping Lady's hair, water seeps and trickles across the rocks and pebbles making up her "bun".

So there are many spots to see and explore at Doi Naang Norn and Khun Naam Naang Norn National Park. And, if exploring any caves, make sure you have a flashlight, matches and candles. Some caves have a reduced level of oxygen, due to low airflow, so leave immediately if you experience a breathing problem. Otherwise, this beautiful region is yours to enjoy when you are next in Chiangrai or Mae Chan districts. And, do remember, leave nature untouched other visitors will appreciate you for that so do not awaken the Sleeping lady!

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