Jungle Trek, Chiang Mai
Favorite thing: By now I was REALLY hungry! I had hiked for a few hours on an empty stomach. So when we arrived at a village I asked my guide if it would be possible to buy some fruit from the locals so he asked them and they replied that they did'nt have any fruit! Then I noticed the Papaya trees and asked about those. The reply that question was that the papayas were'nt yet ripe and that they were grown for the pigs! One of my guides got a stick to show me that they were not ripe. Well I wouldn't want to take any food from the pigs so I ate the watery rice soup that was prepared for us and called it good! Boy I couldn've used a chocolate bar right then too! But they were long gone!
Favorite thing: Just before arriving at the village we had to cross a stream and there wasn't any bridge which was fine with me. It would give me a chance to cool down! After our arrival and we said our hellos to the locals I just sat down and took a break! Check out the crotch of the pants that I'm wearing. They are blown out from climbing the first day! Lucky I was wearing running shorts underneath! LOL
Favorite thing: This was a tough day for me as I was'nt feeling that well but I made the best of it. We had a great day of hiking and luckily for me there weren't any huge moutains to scale as I might not have made it. We only walked for a few hours today and made it to the next village early in the afternoon and that's where we were going to spend the night.
Favorite thing: But at day break I did wake up! But I wasn't feeling good. My stomach felt pretty bad. I needed to get outside fast and as I got out the door I started throwing up! And as I was doing that I could hear the pigs come running over from the other side of the small field. The next thing I knew they were gobbling up my vomit and I was throwing up on their heads! That vision is permanately branded onto my brain.
The locals were ver curious about us. If we opened up our backpacks we would have 20 curious eyes peeping inside hoping to get a glimpse of something I guess. And as we all got put into the same shack most of the kids were just hanging around watching our every move which was ok with me. To bad we couldn't have spoken some their dialect it would have made it really nice. And they didn't speak English so we used our guid as the go between. We would ask him to ask the locals the questions then he would translate them back.
Well now I'll tell you about the coldest most uncomfortable night that I've ever head. Probably only because I wasn't suspecting it.
We were given a rice sack for a blanket and to lay on packed mud at the altitude we were at was just freezing cold. It must've been in the low 50's F. We were all shivering all night but tired so sometime around 3 in the morning I finally fell asleep thinking that I would never wake up alive!
As we came around the side of a hill I could see smoke rising from the trees so I new or thought there would be a village soon. And after another 15 minutes there it was! Civilization! Not really but there were a bunch of houses and some animals. It appeared that the people cultivated rice and opium by the looks of the fields.
Upon our arriving and giving greetings to some of them and and they greeted us and our guide spoke with them for awhile. He appeared to be negotiating for us to stay in one of the mud floored shacks and to get us something to eat. He must have negotiated for the low end package deal as we got packed mud floors to sleep on with rice bags for blankets. That night was one of the most uncomfortable nights of sleeping that I had ever had before or since! I'll never forget it.
The people were very curious of us and as we were told which shack we would be sleeping in we hauled our stuff into it. Not only was it a mud packed floor but the walls and ceiling were covered in soot! The don't use chimneys for venting the smoke. They just let the smoke pour out through holes in the ceiling and around the edges of the walls.
Favorite thing: On this first day most of our hiking was done through areas that look like this this which was real nice for me to see. We didn't come to a village until late afternoon. I thought we would be coming across more villages along the way but we didn't.
Favorite thing: Well it wasn't real jungle just really thick forest! But it was exciting for me as this was the first time that I had experienced lush, big leafy plants with the possiblity of snakes jumping out of the undergrowth at anytime! And believe me I was keeping a keen eye for those serpents! Although on the whole 5 days I never saw one.
Favorite thing: After we hiked past the summit of the mountain we passed these little water falls which is basically the start of the stream that provided the cool crystal clear water that we had gone swimming in further down. In the rainy season this are must be raging with huge amounts of water flowing down the mountain.
Favorite thing: As we passed pools of crystal clear water and more crystal clear pools of water our guide said ok..Do you guys want to go for a swim? It took about 4 seconds for all of us to take our clothes off and jump in the water! There could have been a herd of wild crocodiles in the water and we probably would've still jumped in as we were dying of heat exhaustion. After 10 minutes or so we were ready to go again. I filled up my water bottle with the delicous iodized water and we were on our way. I was wishing that I would have packed a few more chocolate bars! I needed the kind that didn't melt in my 120 degree packpack as they were almost liquid as I ate/drank them. My candy bars were all gone on the first day.
Favorite thing: We were supposed to meet at the guesthouse around 9 AM which seemed late to me as I get up early. So I get up around 6 am and get my stuff ready and went for an early morning walk around Chiang Mai as I love the peaceful sounds of the morning. On the way back I eat breakfast and grab my stuff and go to the meeting point at 8:30. I meet with a couple of the guys that will be doing the trek also. Our guide is running around like a chicken with his head cut off trying to get his last minute stuff together. (He actually seemed unorganized) The Sawngtao showed up a few minutes before 9 so we started loading our stuff into the truck. We still didn't have all of our group members so we had to wait for them. Around 9:15 our guide found them as they had gone for breakfast and lost track of the time. Meanwhile I'm biting at the bit wanting to get trekking and discover long lost hilltribes! After we got our SawngTao loaded up and were cruising past the city limits of Chiang Mai we turned onto a dirt road so I knew the adventure had begun. I thought that because we had paid for a trek and that the Sawng Tao had 10 people and 7 backpacks and other supplies in it that we wouldn't be stopping until we got to the place that we would start trekking. But I was wrong! We stopped along the way and picked up more paying passengers and at one time had 19 people in and on top and hanging off the back! After about 20 minutes of bouncing down the dusty road we had a blow out on one of the rear tires. Great! I assumed that we didn't have a spare but I was wrong about that we had one. So after about 10 minutes of changing the tire we were again bouncing down the Northern Thailand countryside.
Favorite thing: After the delayed start in the morning then the blow out of the tire and the side trip to the cave we have arrived at our starting point of the trek! It is a beautiful setting in the forest with cascading water falls going all the way up the mountain. After we got our backpacks out of the Sawng Tao and everyone got ready we started on our hike. Straight up!! Holy Mackeral this wasn't a stroll through the hills we climbed up for what seemed like a couple of hours but it probably was less. I was sweating so bad that I sweated all the way through my backpack and drank all of the water that I had brought with me. Luckily I had packed some Iodine to treat the water.....Yummy.... Iodized water sucks. It was the first time that I had ever tried it. But I used it so I wouldn't be stricken with giardia or some other form of water borne illness. Later in the trek I even tried flavoring the warm putrid iodized water with toothpaste! Guess what? It tastes worse!
Favorite thing: We pulled into a cave after driving for awhile and I thought "cool" we're gonna start trekking! But heck no we are gonna visit a cave. After I looked into the cave I thought it might be kind of fun to explore the cave as our guide rented a couple of gas powered lanterns from some old guy that was there. But the lanterns wouldn't work and after about 20 minutes of messing with them they finally went poof and ingnited with huge flames coming out of them. I was hoping they weren't gonna ask me to carry one. The 2 guides carried them after they got the flame adjusted. The cave was about 200 ft deep which was deep enough to need the light from the lanterns as none of us had flashlights. I was thinking that the lanterns would probably go out do to some lack of oxygen and we would have to climb back over the rocks in total blackness but that didn't happen. I needed to gain more confindence in my guides. I always thought something was gonna go wrong after the delayed departure and the flat tire and the picking up of way to many people on the way. The cave was pretty cool. Didn't see any bats in there.
They say, adventure travel in Chiang Mai is a must, but I was too lazy to go for few days trekking (even to walk for hours in the jungle)So if u have same 'problem', I recommend u to take a 1 day tour to Sanpatong district instead.
Fondest memory: Elephant trekking + visit 2 tribal villages + half hour walking + lunch + waterfall + bamboo rafting = FUN!
Trekking is a popular activity of tourists that visit Chiangmai; indeed, it is often the attraction that brings people to CM. There are many tour operators in town that offer trekking packages.
The point of trekking is to walk thru the countryside, observe hill tribe people and stay in their villages.
Fondest memory: Because eco-tourism has become popular among foreign visitors, many tour companies have begun offering eco-tour treks. But are they really ‘eco-tours’? In 2000, I was part of a group of foreigners living in Thailand that looked into this issue a little closer. To see our results, printed in the Bangkok Post newspaper on January 14, 2001, please visit the “Eco-Tourism” travelogue on my Chiangmai page.