Published: November 9th 2007November 7th 2007
We waited for the weather to clear up before committing to a trekking tour. J and I signed up for a 2 day 1 night trek North of Chiang Mai, in the Doi Inanthon National Park. The trek includes elephant riding, hiking, staying at a hilltribe overnight, and more hiking, and bamboo rafting.
A pick up truck with seats in the trunk picked us up, along with a group of travelers from England. The 6 of us first stopped at a market to pick up some water, food and snacks.
We headed to an elephant area and went for rides - I imagined "elephant trekking" but it turned out to be "elephant riding". Nonetheless, it was lots of fun. Elephants are gigantic!!! They eat 200 kilos a day! :) Anyway, J bought some bananas and fed our elephant the entire time. The elephant blew air through its trunk at us when we ran out of snacks for her. The elephant trunk is so funny - a very skilled nose! I love the elephant's toenails too.
We stopped for lunch which soley consisted of fried rice - actually, I would almost describe it as white rice. Pretty horrible, but
J and I had breakfast so it was fine. My suspicious self thinks that the tour leaders gave us a crummy meal and feasted themselves using the group's budget. Anyhoo...
After covering myself with bug spray, we head off trekking through the jungle! First off, I wore jeans (the only long pants I have) and a long sleeved white (Dry-wick) t-shirt. The only exposed part of my body was my face and hands. I still managed to get 7 bites on my hand!! Imagine if I had worn shorts! Itchy!
We had two 18 year old guys from England on our trek and they were walking so fast! We were hiking faster than I walk through a mall! I decided I like to browse and walk slowly while I hike - to enjoy the plants, scenery, and air... and save my energy! The beginning portion of the trek was 75% uphill. I was about to die from the pace we were going, the humidity and heat. My jeans were completely stuck to my legs from sweat - my jeans were getting longer and longer from being stretched out by my sweat and uphill movements. Gross.
at a river/waterfall and the adventurous ones went in for a dip. The water was pretty cold, and it was nice to rest and cool off. We then continued another 1.5 hours (still uphill) through some rice fields and mountains. We got to the hilltribe (Karen tribe) family we were staying for the night. The six of us had our own bamboo hut. The roof was made of leaves, and the sides and floor from strips of bamboo. There were sleeping bags and mosquito nets for us. The toilet was outside (like an outhouse). We enjoyed some cold drinks and snacks before dinner. We were all pretty tired, hot and hungry. J had some Oreo cookies she brought along. The best Oreo cookie I've ever tasted.
Our trekking guide cooked us dinner (curry and sweet/sour vegetables). We enjoyed all talking together, and listening to everyone's travel stories. As expected, the 18 year olds had the most adventurous stories of us all.
I slathered on some bug spray and pulled down the mosquito net. The sleep was pretty uncomfortable, but it was fine because I was so tired. I slept with a scarf on to protect me from the
grimy pillow and any mosquitos that managed to get through the net. It was pretty darn cold too, since were were bascially sleeping outdoors in the mountains! We had fun - it was like camping!
The Karen tribe is the largest hilltribe in Thailand. Our guide was saying that they are slowly changing their culture and losing alot of traditions. The family we stayed with spoke a little English and tried to sell us souvenirs (which I bought since I felt obligated).
The next morning we headed out aroud 10:30 am and hiked downhill for about three hours. Phew. The hike was pleasant, along a river, through farmland, around a banana plantation and through a lot of bamboo forests.
We ate noodles for lunch and headed toward the river for some bamboo rafting. The boat ride was relaxing although we got drenched. As we climbed out the river, we stepped on some rafts to get to the shore. J didn't realize that the bamboo stalks on one of the rafts were not connected/tied together and when she stepped on it, all of the bamboos split apart and she was on all fours balancing, stretched out and trying
to not fall into the water. It was so hilarious. You had to be there to see the fear on her face. haha.
I thought the trek was a lot of fun, and I'm glad we did it! I asked our guide if anyone wimped out of the trek before, and he said "Many!".... so at least we made it! Worth the sweat and bites.
Info: The trekking company we used (through our guesthouse) was called World Story. They were OK value, I would recommend them.
There are more photos below