Elephant Trekking, Bamboo Rafting and Living in a Mountain Village...
20.09.2012 - 23.09.2012
A group of 10 of us set off on our trek at 6am, we took a landrover for 2hrs heading towards the jungle north of Chiang Mai. The views on the journey were amazing with rice fields and remote villages with stunning scenery. After getting stuck briefly off-road when heading up the mountains, we arrived at the start point for our trek. Equipped with knife and slingshot we began walking through the jungle area with our guide Mr Ton, the Thai equivalent of Ray Mears but funnier! His knowledge of the jungle and outdoors was amazing as he grew up in a mountain village. He showed us how to make hats and childrens toys with leaves from banana plants and showed us the natural medicines and fruits the mountain people use as well as the hideouts of loads of interesting wildlife. We walked for an hour or so before reaching a river where we spent the morning elephant trekking.
The elephant trekking was amazing! our elephant took us up some steep and narrow terrain and showed some tidy footwork for a big lad. It was a bit sketchy at times as our elephant was particularly boisterous and wanted to go off the track, at one point we thought we were going to fall over the edge of a drop when our elephant stretched over as he found a plant he liked the look of down the hillside! We then trekked for about two hours in the heat, sweating buckets but enjoying the amazing views. Later on that day we reached our home for the night, a wooden hut that had been built by the villagers that sat at the top of a hill, overlooking a stunning view with the mountains in the distance.
After settling in we started preparing our evening meal together learning some tasty thai dishes cooked over the open fire. After dinner we set up rat traps which we placed in the jungle to see if we could catch some overnight. We then listened to Mr Ton's pan flute he had made whilst walking that afternoon and then he played some interesting versions of some classic songs on the guitar! Later that night we went out on a night trek which was good fun searching for wildlife with our headlights.
We spent the second day trekking through the jungle, stopping for some lunch wrapped up in banana leaves with chopsticks Mr Ton had made earlier with some bamboo he chopped down! The views were incredible and after a fairly long trek through thick vegetation and steep hills we reached the mountain village where we would be spending the night. It was literally in the middle of knowhere in a beautiful setting. The village is completely self sustaining with chickens roaming about freely and pigs under the huts we slept in. We set up a campfire and helped crush the rice we would have for dinner and cooked some sticky sweet rice inside bamboo. The vilage children then got home from their 8km walk from school and we played football using a wicker ball with them on the hill and fired slingshots at targets until it got dark. The kids then taught us some of their games they play which was really good fun before we ate dinner the villagers cooked us, sitting in their lounge which was also their bedroom! After dinner the kids put on a dance show for us and we sang songs round the campfire with a guitar and some beers and thai rum. It was amazing experience living with them away from civilisation and was arguably the highlight of the trek. The next day we said our goodbyes and gave the kids some lollies as presents which went down well! We then set off again into the jungle where we walked to a river to do some bamboo rafting. This was so much fun floating down the river with incredible scenery whilst dodging rocks, trees and sharp corners. We all fell in at least once with rob taking the plunge twice! Next we got picked up and driven to the highest waterfall in Northern Thailand where we had to trek up for half an hour to reach it. It was an amazing sight at the top and we got some good photos. We then went from a swim in it further down, sliding down through the mini waterfalls at the bottom, this was great fun an a refreshing wash after 3 days of trekking and was a fantastic end to an amazing trip! We met some great people on the trek and broadened our international contacts with chillean, canadian, australian, german and spanish people we made friends with.
Tomorrow we are taking a bus to the Laos/ Thai border where we will be taking a slow, long boat along the mekong river for 3 days to Luang Prabang.
All the best,
The boys xxx