Apr 22, 2007
|Once upon a time, three intrepid travelers went on a trek. They met the group early in the morning and left Chiang Mai for the mountains. Their trusty guide Sombat led them first to a huge waterfall where they frolicked in the chilly cascade (pictures 1 and 2). Next they traveled further to begin their hike. Kate and Carla gravely underestimated the intensity of said hike, and swapped their flip flops for sneakers (first time for everything) within the first five minutes.
The first days hike was a steady uphill trek, led by Robin and Paul talking and singing. The rest of the group was huffing and puffing. Inevitably, what comes up must come down. Unfortunately, straight up the mountain was followed by straight down the other side (equally rough on the joints).
After about an hour and half of high impact hiking the group arrived at a small Karen village. The Karen are one of several hill tribes who inhabit the border regions between Thailand and Myanmar. The village ran solely on solar power, and so electricity was in short supply. Sombat, the guide, was a Karen villager, and so he gave us a touir of village life. Along the way, the strapping young ladies were put to work separating rice (see picture 3).
After a long and arduous journey, we settled in for the night. Everyone wanted a shower. Our guide led us to the best one in town (see picture 4). After everyone was clean, the heavens opened up. The never bored travelers found many ways to entertain themselves and many a throwback to middle school (think Asshole, murderer, telephone, and follow the leader). They also revised tried and true traditions, singing by campfire a great compilation of western and thai favourites.
In the morning, after the rain let up, the girls took a walk to see their surroundings (see pictures 5, 6, 7). They made a new friend who did not want to let them go (see pictures 8 and 9). After breakfast the group set out for a second day of straight uphill hiking (this time for even longer), and the girls revelled at the stunning legs and buttocks that would result (sorry, no pictures).
Along the way, the group stopped to work alongside villagers planting ginger in the hills (see pictures 10 and 11). A few kilometers straight uphill made some of the team a little slap happy, and afterall everything is better with silly hats (see picture 12).
After a hard mornings hike, a nice respite is always needed, but Carla and Robin don't recommend lying prostrate next to the toilet. Your friends will take photos (see picture 13).
Following a brief recovery and lunch, the real fun began when the elephants arrived.
Carla had a special moment of bonding with her namesake (baby elephant- so named due to clumsiness not incredible memorization skills or fear of mice- see picture 14). The elephants recognize a good thing when they see it, and they all wanted to have Bernie. As he is the official trip mascot, the girls refused to yield.
The group then boarded the elephants for about an hour and a half of steep and narrow up and down terrain (see pictures 15 and 16). At some moments, the only thing that held the travellers in their seats was their rippling biceps. Everyone also took the opportunity to ride bareback a bit. The group travelled over beautiful landscape atop the elephants (see picture 17).
The elephants brought the travellers to just outside the village where they would spend their second night. Some of the group played soccer with the village children, while the rest were exhausted and could only spectate. Needless to say, the hilltribe children kicked the foreigners asses after the long day:}
The evening brought delicious food followed by an international collection of drinking games. Sombat introduced them to the first game and to home made Thai whiskey. The game involved numbers, and snapping, but the penalty involved the smearing of charcoal fresh from the pots from dinner onto the losers face accompanied by a generous portion of moonshine (see picture 18). From there, the games just got sillier, culminating in animal mimicry.
Here ends the picture story, as the next activities were on the water and the cameras lost their charge anyway. The following morning the group rose early and boarded rafts constructed of bamboo that had been made in the village the night before. The trekkers were divided into two groups, and given bamboo poles in the style of Cambridge punting or gondoliers to move them down the river. They had anticipated a laid back morning floating peacefully down river, but it was not entirely to be that way. There were several rapids, many rocks, a few crashes, and one or two rather spectular diggers off the boats.
The group continued in this manner for nearly five hours through beautiful jungle to the finish. After a quick lunch they headed back toward Chiang Mai over several hours of twisty and turny road in the back of a pickup. They had become fast friends and were excited to hang out without worrying about B.O. It was a trying three days, but in the best ways. Everyone agreed it had been an awesome and memorable journey.
CB, KK, RH
ps. For more pictures, check out our new gmail photos pages: http://picasaweb.google.com/kateandcarla