The start to our trek wasn’t very smooth & we were dubious walking head first in to the jungle. The tour agency was meant to provide backpacks, however after driving an hour away from Chang Mai, I thought it best to check. Apparently we needed to request them before we set off and we didn’t have time to go back to the city. We “luckily” stopped off at a market and bought two fitting backpacks; Thailand’s version of the North Face; The Mouth Form. When in Thailand…
After the £4.00 purchase & 5 minutes of use; Andrea’s bag split at the shoulder strap. Luckily, another trek group were leaving as we arrived and they replaced the bag for her. (This also coincidently split on the 3rd day of trekking).
After the Mouth Form debacle, it was time to ride on elephants! A large proportion of our group decided half way through the ride to get off because they felt their minders were mistreating the elephants. We were at the back of the heard and our elephant minder was relatively gentle with the animal so we continued until the end. It’s always hard to know how animals will be treated by tour operators when booking but by a rule of thumb; I think it would be naïve for any traveller to believe the minders wouldn’t have to usher them along a route by some means of pressure. Next time, I’ll be spending my money at a conservation park with the animal of choice to make sure the funds are being used appropriately and with full knowledge that the animal is well taken care of.
With the bumpy start out of the way, literally, the rest of the jungle trek was amazing! After a 1 & ½ hour walk on the first day, including harsh hill inclines, we made it to our Bamboo Hut where we spent the night. Arriving at this waterfall with a Chang Beer in hand was a definite reward!
The next day, we trekked a lot further and a lot longer. We walked through rough jungle terrain, uphill and down, for around 4 hours in total. This day included shooting rifles, (for some members of our group @ 40p a shot) & a lovely Noodle Soup lunch made by a local “Karen” tribe villager at his home in the middle of NOWHERE. After another couple of hours trekking, we made it to Karen Village where we ate and spent the night with the local tribe. The chief of the tribe shook all of our hands individually as we arrived and was 85 years young. I taught one of the local tribe children, Quenchai, the game Slappsies and lost horrendously. I also bought a wristband from him, hand made, for 20 Thai Baht.
After a sleepless night, upon finding a humungous black spider in our mosquito net and being awoken by cockerels at 4am, (4am!?) it was time to trek some more. Our trek guide, Dej, attempted to remove the human eating spider before we went to bed, (it probably wasn’t a human predator but it could have been) but failed miserably and it disappeared into our bedding, never to be seen again…
In the morning, we walked 1 hour and ½ to this waterfall for a quick break, then 2 more hours of steep downhill trekking to the outskirts of the jungle. We were picked up by truck and rewarded with 3 portions of chicken noodles… EACH.
We then went bamboo rafting down a white water river. I’m sure we sank and miraculously rose again around 3 times during our ride. Praise Buddha for floating bamboo! After the rafting, it was time to head home to Chang Mai and leave the jungle behind us. It was a bittersweet goodbye and we both miss the hilly terrain, with weird pain-sweat drenched nostalgia.
Our next adventure will be on a two-day slow boat along the Mekong River from Chang Rai to Luang Prabang in Laos!
Until then, keep on roaming 🙂