PHUKET: While perusing old photographs of Chiang Mai, I came across some views of Doi Inthanan. This mountain, at 2,564 meters, is not only the highest in Thailand, but boasts some spectacular montane forests and flowers. At the summit, the twin Chedis appear to float, disembodied, in swirling mists that are more reminiscent of a Scottish "haar" than a tropical mountainscape. The upper slopes of Doi Inthanon offer a perfect setting for temperate plants – lower diurnal temperatures and cooler nights – that would otherwise struggle to survive in Thailand's hot-house environment. With more than 300 kinds of birds, there is greater biodiversity here than in any part of the country. Red rhododendrons – unique to this area of the kingdom – grow near the summit, there are two varieties of conifer found only here, and the moist hillsides provide a perfect environment for epiphytic plants such as wanda orchids, and a range of lichens, lianas, sphagnum mosses and osmada ferns. Royal projects encourage hill villagers to cultivate cold climate crops including apples, strawberries and grapes. Lower down where the air is dryer and warmer (at the top the temperature often falls below zero), there are magnificent stands of Angel's… Read full this story
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