Hilltribe treks north of Chiang Mai, Thailand
21.05.2010 - 23.05.2010 93 °F
Today is May 21st, 2010 and I woke up pleasantly surprised that my stomach was feeling top notch. Lisa and I checked out of the MD House and walked over to Tony’s Tours to drop off our big backpacks and anxiously awaited or tour guides arrival for the adventure to begin. Tony informed us that we would be with 7 other travelers taking in the experience but in the end it was just 1 other guy, Robin, from Sweden. So much for meeting some cute singles on this trip.
First up after the ride north was a trek to a waterfall. Funny as we walked through the woods all the trees were brown and appeared to be in need of water. We heard no waterfall and there was “no” waterfall. Okay, we can live with that but what is in store for us next? To think we really researched this tour also. Now that I think of it, Lisa did inform me a few days prior that she doesn’t have the best of luck and she is very protective of all her belongings in fear of them being stolen. Maybe some of her “luck” was rubbing off on me and not in a good way. No worries, we are here and making the most of the 3 person tour. I’d like to think that we were given the full “Thailand Hill Tribe Trek” experience. We weren’t on your typical touristy tour by any means.
After the waterfall trek, we took in some grub and began our 3 ½ hour trek to our first Karen village. We stopped along the way to take in some sights, sample the fruit from the trees. I am a big mango fan but the sour mango Sunshine had us try was a bit too much. I preferred the lychee and couldn’t get enough of them. We arrived around 5pm to the first Karen village and got settled in to our bed area if you could call it that. This was exactly what I expected. No thrills, no real bed and no real shower. We took a breather and took turns using their form of a shower. A bucket, very cold water and a few splashes on myself to refresh.
The three of us sat around and took in some more lychees. The other two tried pig intestine while I opted against that one. Not unless I am fighting for 1 million dollars would I choose to eat that. I will say I have come along way though and I did try catfish for dinner. I mean the fish where they just cook and serve, no de-scaling or de-anything. Straight up fish! After dinner there was not much more to do than call it a night. It was pouring down rain and we had an early start with many kilometers ahead of us. Call it a first in ages but I got very cold and had to use the blanket at the end of the bed that appeared to be last washed maybe 5 years ago. I used my flashlight to check for crawlers and after about an hour of feeling all itchy, I managed to fall asleep.
No sleeping in at the village. Those darn roosters are up at 4am trying to wake you up. One day gone, another day of trekking begins. Breakfast was simple and we started our 9km trek up and down the hills north of Chiang Mai in route to another Karen Village. Bring on the elephants please! We would stop for lunch at the elephant village for some grub then a 1 hour ride through more bush. Good thing we waited a few minutes after lunch because those elephants don’t give you the smoothest ride in the world. Lisa and I shared one, while Robin went solo. A few times I couldn’t help but get that Grand Canyon imagine of the woman that was trampled by the mule when I was volunteering out of my head. We had a few crazy turns and steep down hills but we made it.
What better way to end a hot, sweaty day than with a proper shower. We arrived at the second Karen village in time to lounge for a bit, shower, walk around and see the village and then some dinner grub. I can’t help but long for a bed someday, a real one. Who knows when that will be but as for now I am living day to day and taking in all that I can. It is amazing to see how these people live and many never leave their tribes. They don’t know about wii or fight over the latest Nintendo dx because they don’t know any better. They play in the rice fields, chase pigs and enjoy the outdoors. Well, with all that said, I did see a satellite set outside a home. Even still, let them watch a little television. They deserve it.
After dinner, Robin and I opted for some Thai massages. We had the candle light and massage in our bed mats. However, I am convinced that these women were NOT trained in massage what so ever. I’d call it a “spine rub” more than a massage but the woman meant well. At least the price I paid her would help out the village. Off to bed it is as tomorrow would come quick.
The last day was full of bamboo rafting down the river. We had our leg workout so why not work our arms for a bit. Their were a few bumps along the way but for the most part, we did very well and Sunshine was a great guide. We had lunch on the water after 5 hours of rafting and then headed over to check out one other waterfall on the way back to Chiang Mai. This one ACTUALLY existed.
So long hill tribe treks and it was time to head back to Chiang Mai, get our backpacks and find a place to lay our heads for the night. This was an amazing experience. Okay, so it wasn’t what we thought exactly. We didn’t see the actual “longneck” tribe or had many others with us on the journey but we did take in some Thailand culture and learned about different types of rice, saw how hard the tribes work and what little they have as far as material things. Family is everything to them.
Goodbye Karen village, Hello Chiang Mai for round two. Let’s hope the curfew is gone and the night markets are back.
The Dish is out...