Sunday, April 17, 2005

Day 18 - Chiang Mai - 'trek'

Today I started on my 'trek' to visit some isolated hill tribes, visited and photographed only by a select group of several million intrepid explorers of the uundiscovered countryside of the most touristy town in Thailand. The hill tribes are in fact so remote that in order to visit one of their camps one is forced to undertake an arduous journey by elephant and bamboo river raft. Fortunately the friendly natives were able to provide the elephant-back transportation that we required for our journey.

After a light breakfast, we undertook an arduous 40 minute trip by pick-up truck to the local market where we bought supplies. The term was unclear to me and I bought up food as if I had to feed myself for the next 2 days. This would prove to be an inaccurate understanding of the fundamentals of this 'trek'. Along for this journey I was joined by a couple of Germany and another couple from Australia. Unlike myself who apparently again misunderstood the basics of this trip they were all wearing flip-flops and sandals. I was outfitted in hiking boots. In any case from the market we were driven by our brave native pathseeker to one of the Thai National Parks. At the entrance to the park there was a traditional outdoor native restaraunt serving such traditional dishes as hamburger and fries and iced coffee. We followed a well marked and well trodden path to a waterfall where we were instructed that we had the option of taking a dip. This was again unexpected to me, but fortunately I had bought silk blue underwear the day before and went into the water in these. The water was quite refreshing, but our grueling journey was still waiting for us.

After the waterfall we were off into the jungle. After about an hour hike we came to a hill village. The natives were strangely unsurprised by the present of their foreign guests. Some were even so brave as to offer us cold Coca Cola, Singha beer and water. Despite my attempts to trade some trinkets for the drinks, the natives were apparently capable of understanding what money was and were happy to accept Thai baht in payment. After a short break we were off again, though the natives did not seem surprised or upset to see us go.

We hiked up for another 2 hours until we came to another village. This was where we spent the first night. A man who was probably the village chief welcomed us and showed us to our humble abode, which consisted of a large room with few furnishings. He kindly lay some rugs on the ground and gave us blankets to cover ourselves with at night. He then proceeded to cook for us a meal of rice and several dishes of meat. Again the inhabitants of this village were unsurprised by our presence, making it almost seem to me that they are quite used to the presence of foreigners. We were again offered coke, beer and water as drinks. After the meal a fire was kindled where we sat about and discussed various topics. The natives did not come to speak to us, but our guide entertained us by digesting various kinds of bugs. He then offered to us a fried bug, which tasted a bit salty, with a strange but not unpleasant aftertaste.

After the fire died out we retired to our room and went to sleep.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Mysterious Stranger said...

Chiang Mai seems perfectly tourist-friendly. Are you planning to delay your visit there, a la Goa, for a few weeks?

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Mysterious Stranger said...

Oh, and by the way, when you get to go on the elephant ride, try complaining about the smelly elephant, and then sprinkle some cologne on its head. See what kind of reaction this will elicit from the Germans and the natives.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Howdy,

I haven't been online in a couple of days, but as far as Chiang Mai goes it seems a very nice place to spend some time. If a person is travelling around SE Asia for 6 months spending some time in Chiang Mai is sure to recharge his batteries because its almost like being in some very strange town in Europe or the States. There is an internet cafe, a postal service, and a treking agency on every corner, often doing all three tasks at once. One can easily go trekking for months and most treks are more realistic than my 2 day super-rush-trek. (that is as realistic as any trek can be in a region which has been trekked by hundreds of thousands) In any case there are treks up to 10 days and other things to do in Chiang Mai.... If I had some time I would definately spend some more of it in Chiang Mai, but alas I had to go back to the States. (I am back in East Brunswick now).

9:27 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

I doubt the natives would be surprised by anyting a westerner would do anymore.

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Mysterious Stranger said...

D'oh, you didn't get my movie reference with the elephant...

6:27 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

indiana jones

9:40 AM  

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