Sunday, May 8, 2011

Jungle trek in the Mae Tang region, Thailand

While in Bangkok we looked for a place to stay in Chiang Mai and Parami guest house was the chosen one. It is on the East side of town about 20 minutes walk away. Dang who works there was really helpful and showed us the many treks available. We were interested in a 3 days trek involving long walks in the Thai jungle as well as an elephant ride, white river and bamboo rafting.
We stopped at a couple of guest houses to pick up BelI, Sam, Sarah and Amy. Beli and Sam would only stay with us the first night while Sarah and Amy were doing the same trek as us.

The first stop of our journey was at the orchid farm. It was shown how jewellery was made out of real orchids, hand picked by the workers. We believed we stopped there so we could buy some but that didn’t happen.

The next stop was the snake farm. There only were a few cages full of lethal and not so lethal snakes such as python, cobras and the “others” which are not so popular as they can’t kill an elephant…

During the show we witnessed one of the snakes charmers “playing” with cobras. From the untrained eye it really looked like he was pissing them off and putting his life in jeopardy.

Yumi and Thomas volunteered to get a huuuuuge python around their neck, with a snake charmer  holding its tail and the other one holding its head. “These snakes are really heavy!”  said Yumi while Thomas didn’t really like the snake charmer making the python sniff his family jewels. The python did not comment but it is pretty sure he didn’t like getting that close to Thomas’s nuts either.

We also stopped at the Long Neck Karen village. it all looked nice with little waterfalls, many stalls and a few huts but it seemed that it was all fake and made for tourists. The Long Necks were real though. Eeek.  Find below which one of these two Asians is NOT a long neck.
Hint: she is not wearing a black shirt

We finally stopped at a local market to buy the kind of things we’d need for the next 3 days: water, ponchos and toilet paper. At about 1pm we stopped for food and headed towards the mountains and the village where we’d spend the night. Amy and Sarah impressed us by walking around with their flip-flops and Ikea bags while the 4 of us had trekking shoes and proper backpacks. Nobody told them the walks would be tough and slippery. Not nice.

We saw a couple of elephants 20 minutes into our journey and our guide kept on feeding us with jungle leaves and fruits. Wat deemed them safe to eat. None of us suffered stomach aches so he was spot on. The village we stopped at is on top of the mountain with stunning views over the rainforest. The rain finally ceased as we arrived at the village. Just in time to start a little fire and have a beer. Yes that’s right. There is no electricity or running water here, but beers are available!

Wat was a cook for a guest house before being a guide so he cooked some yellow curry with chicken as a main dish and collected termites which he fried and salted for desert. Crunchy. It tastes like popcorn.

The girls were already sleeping for a while -it was 10pm- when Yumi decided to go to bed, leaving Thomas, Wat and a bottle of moonshine by themselves. The bottle of moonshine did not make it through the night.

We said goodbye to Sam and Beli on day 2 to carry on to our next camp, 6h away. It was so warm we sweated a few liters of water, luckily we dipped in a couple of  streams and near a waterfall to cool us down. Our hut for the second night was next to the river we’d kayak and it was really loud but no matter how noisy it can be, when you are knackered you sleep anywhere anytime.

Day 3 was a bit of a Thai triathlon: Elephant ride, White river and Bamboo rafting. The elephant ride was not great as it really looked like the elephant did not want to do anything and we felt bad about it. Thomas tried to feed bananas to the elephant but he didn’t want any. So Thomas ate them all.

The white river rafting was relaxing and we flowed down the river effortlessly. Thomas had a bit of time for a couple of dips. After about an hour, we docked on some kind of bamboo pier but it was our bamboo raft! The guide -who kept on singing “la vida loca” from Ricky Martin- manoeuvred us to a hut where we ate, played cards and waited for our ride back to Chiang Mai.

It was a great adventure and 3 days felt like 10 and as usual it was a shock to go back to a big city after getting into the Thai jungle.

1 comment:

  1. So Tom, I deduced of your adventure that you prefer eating termites for desert than giving bananas to elephant ? Maybe, next time, you could be give termites to elephant (he will be afraid) and eat bananas... But I agree with you, it's not funny, it's for tourists :-0



    PS : I didn't recognize where was Yumi in the picture :-(
    PS2 : sorry...