The boys and I opted for a three day, two night trekk in the hills. We had heard from friends that it was their favorite part of Chiang Mai, so I was stoked. For only 1800 baht ($60), it covered all our expenses, minus alcohol obviously. There were four other people in the group, which made 8 of us total, plus our tour guide Pot, but I’ll get into him later. First was elephant trekking! I was so excited. However, that was followed by disappointment. I was expected to bathe and play with the elephants, just like the pictures had shown. Instead, we were sort of just thrown on their backs and taken on a little tour. I knew nothing about my elephant at all. Our guide just yelled at him/her a lot. He did get down to take some pictures though, there are about 80 of Spense and me on it, only a few of them are flattering.
Spense got to ride on the back of one, which was pretty awesome. We also fed the elehpant about 20 bananas along the course of the ride.
After that, the 8 of us hopped back in our truck and drove to the hills where we would be trekking. I put on my crazy knee brace and eagerly began to follow our guide. The trekk seemed doable for about five minutes, until I started to question what I had gotten myself into. Very quickly, the terrain became very uneven and very steep, both up and down. I was inching my way down the mountain when I slipped a bit. I was okay, but I knew I couldn’t be doing things like that with a recovering ACL. Our guide made me an awesome walking stick out of bamboo, which saved my life. Eventually, we made it to the waterfall, I have never been more excited to hear the sound of trickling water until this moment. It was pure relief. On top of that, it was absolutely gorgeous.
We headed back down the mountain once again and into the village where we would be spending the night. I was so relieved to hear the sound of roosters in the distance, I knew that meant civilization. I know I sound like a whiny poose, but this trekk was HARD, and I was terrified of re-tearing my ACL the entire time.
Pot explained that the village we were going to be camping out at was actually the village of his wife. He is a member of the Karen tribe, a Burmese-Thai tribe that has inhabited the hills of northern Thailand for decades. We explored a little bit, but the village was tiny, so there was not much to see. We did see lots and lots of farm animals though. I chased some baby pigs around in the hopes of getting a good picture, but those things are fast! Pot explained that every family had pigs so that they could be sacrificed in celebrations like weddings and the new year.
He told us that his wife was only 15 when they got married, and he was 20. I thought it was crazy, but it’s normal for them. Weddings last three days, one in each of the families village and then one with both the families together. A pig is always sacrificed. It sounds like an amazing tradition.
When I realized that the girl selling bracelets had a baby of her own, I felt obliged to buy one, she couldn’t have been older than 16. I lost it a few days later unfortunately, but I love this picture of her.
Pot made us an amazing dinner at around 6 o’clock. We lasted as long as we could before hitting the hay. There was not a lack of entertainment though. One of the tribesmen, who calls himself the Thai David Copperfield, decided to show us some magic tricks. It was hilarious, and definitely impressive. He showed us all his tricks, so we will be testing it out when we return home eventually. He also made me take a picture of him smoking a cigarette from his nose, it was painful to watch. The hills tribemen/women smoke cigarettes wrapped in banana leaves, something I found very interesting. They mix tobacco and tamarind skin for the inside. We all tried some, but it was extremely harsh, I accidentally inhaled too much and it took me a few minutes to bounce back. I regretted it the next day on the rest of our trekk.
We ended the night by sleeping in our mosquito net covered “beds”, which were really just slabs of wood. It wasn’t the best nights sleep I’ve ever gotten but I was grateful for my blanket. The next day was supposed to be easier, with just hikes and waterfalls. I was eager to see more and fell asleep quickly.
More to come! One love.