Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hill Tribe Trek

After a week of daily massages and relaxing on the beach, Shawn and I decided that we needed to do a 2 day trek through the hill tribes of Northern Thailand. We were under the impression that we would be hiking through the jubgle for 2 days to arrive at the Long Neck village where women wear gold rings around their necks, adding them until their necks are very long. We packed our backpack to the T. Everything that it said on the checklist, we brought: including the raincoat (even though it is dryer than the Sahara here) and long sleeves and pants (even though the tempatures have exceeded 100 degrees all month.) The first thing our guide told us was that we were going to stop at the market to get some candy in case our blood sugar dropped on the hike. This is when I learned that Thai candy comes in the form of seaweed or fish. I was glad that I had some peanut butter and apples already packed away. Next, she asked us how much water we had. "None", we replied, "the brochure said it was provided." She proceeded to give us 5 water bottles to lug up the mountain that were about the temperature of hot tea. As we walked uphill in 113 degree weather she told us that just last month a 29 year old had died from heat stroke on this hike. I responded to this by drinking half of a hot bottle of water. You can never be too careful. To compound the heat, they were doing some controlled burnings to prevent forest fires since it was so dry. The smoke and ashes made it even hotter. 1 hour into our trek we ran into a couple of women who were cutting down bamboo to build their house. The cut us each a stick and sanded it with leaves and told us they were to hit away the snakes. Super! 3 hours into our trek, we got to jump into a waterfall and swim which was quite refreshing. As we were leaving though to head to the village where we would be sleeping, our guide asked us if we had a flashlight. "No", we said, "we were told one would be provided." "Hmmm..." she says, "I wonder how you will go to the bathroom at night?" (I'll tell you how...but turning on our camera to view a picture then somehow managing to make it to the outhouse, squat, hold my pants, toilet paper, and camera all at the same time.) When we get to the village I get bold and try to practice my Thai. "Sawasdee-ka," I smile and say to passing villagers (a Thai greeting). Laughter broke out. When I asked our guide if I had said it right, she said, "Yes, but these people are from Mongolia, not Thailand. They don't speak Thai." Who knew? We were also a bit discouraged that these Mongolian villages in Thailand had roads leading up to them and many of the villagers had cars or motorbikes. I am happy for them for that. It was not as fun knowing that just anyone could drive up there. Also, these was not the long neck village. This was a village of Mongolian refugees. That night, we were served dinner by candlelight since there was no power. Once the sun went down, there was no light. Shawn and I tried to play a card game but couldn't remember any so we played Go Fish. We were in bed (a mat on a wooden floor and a blanket to cover up with- so not needed- and a blanket as a pillow) by 8:30. The next day we awoke with the roosters and began our desent. Down was much better than up. After about 3 hours of trekking and a quick lunch, we arrived at a river where we were to get on a bamboo raft. "Put your camera in a plastic bag," our guide told us, "because Thai people like to splash." What she didn't tell us was that the bamboo raft sits under the water and we would sit directly on it. We were soaked! But it was fun to paddle down the rivers of Thailand looking at the sites as we relaxed (as opposed to hiking!) After the raft we got in a van- soaking wet- and drove home. Shawn and I both agree that it was a fun experience and we are glad we did it, but next time it will not be in the middle of their hot season. We are now so glad to be home (back in Chiang Mai with Shawn's family!)


  1. The Incredible Journey! I love these pics!

  2. This sounds so much fun! But also ridiculously harsh! Totally worth it, though, it seems.