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Published: January 20th 2010
Our minibus collected us for our daytrip at 8.30am. There were 6 other people in our group: an Italian couple Massimo & Savanna; a French Canadian called Lisa; Susanna from Slovakia; and a Chinese couple Lu-Lu and Luó jié... aka Roger.
Everyone spoke English and told us about their home towns and their jobs. Lu-Lu & Roger (both Art tachers in China) told us about an Explosion that was due to happen in Shanghai and London in 2010. He looked at our confused, panicked faces, then laughed and corrected his mistake. He'd meant Exhibition.
First stop was a Butterfly & Orchid farm. The Butterflies must be so used to people taking photos as they didn't fly away or hide.
Next we went to a Hill-Tribe village to meet the Long-Necked women, with heavy coils around their necks. The coils don't stretch the neck, they actually push the collarbones and ribs downwards. They believe this makes women more beautiful and that they resemble a tree. We also met women from another tribe with big hoops in their ears, again the size of which increases with age. We watched how the women weave material and make interesting items to sell to tourists.
in the minibus, Lu-Lu and Roger told us it was their Honeymoon. They were the sweetest couple ever. They handed out seaweed paper, I think it's the stuff you wrap Sushi in, that they eat as a snack.
Ellie & I boarded our Elephant, suitably named Pongy, and bought some Banana's to feed him with. He kept putting his trunk up to us to hand him food, and if we weren't quick enough he'd blow a lung full of air at us, it was hilarious. He was sooo greedy, we loved him. We stroked his thick leathery skin, don't know why but I hadn't expected him to feel like that at all. I sat on his neck, but his stubbly skin pricked my skin and it was quite hard to balance. Had a quiet 5 minutes as we passed a beautiful landscape and luscious Banana trees and thought about the trip so far. Our visit to Thailand is nearly over. Sometimes I need to pinch myself to believe I'm really here, so I must remember to make the most of every minute.
We went down a steep hill and nearly fell off, at which point Pongy picked up speed when
he noticed Lu-Lu (on the Elephant in front) still had some Banana's left. Gave Pongy a big pat before leaving him for our Trek through the jungle. Climbed down a big dusty mountain and got in a cage to zipwire across a River. Our guide spoke English really well and told us about the trees and plants along the way. One small plant had leaves that close up when you touched them. Fascinating.
Hiked up a mountain, using rocks and branches to pull ourselves up steep parts, then arrived in a small village just for one family. We had lunch outside one of their wooden huts. They served us Pad Thai that had been wrapped in a Banana leaf to keep it warm. They also let us try Sweet Egg Rice which had been cooked in Coconut milk and was delicious despite it's name.
Walked to the Bamboo hut toilets and was very wary of what might be waiting for me. Heard this hideous squawking sound (at which point I'm pretty sure my feet left the ground) and tucked my arms in to me, trying to make myself as small as possible. Eyes wide, I searched for the creature. It
was a leaky tap with low water pressure.
The guide told us most of the Hill-Tribes lead a traditional lifestyle, where the men hunt for food and cut Bamboo to sell, while the women look after children, cook meals and make items to sell to tourists. Back on the hike, we passed Bamboo with holes carved in it. The guide told us the Tribes cut open Bamboo to eat the worms inside. They also eat spiders and snakes.
We were given the option to cross a long thin tree trunk, or to use the safe option of a pathway. We chose to walk the tree trunk. I was petrified and used all of my energy to concentrate on the middle and not look down. I took tiny steps and focussed on controlling my breathing, and eventually I made it across. I felt on top of the world when I reached the other side.
We practiced hunting using a traditional catapult then continued on the Trek through the jungle. We could hear crashing water and rounded the corner to see a huge waterfall. Stripped down to our bikini's and went for a swim. The water was freezing and took my breath
away, while the falling water pounded my shoulders.
We trekked back the way we came then got in the minibus to the White-water rafting centre. We were given a few instructions then headed off in two teams of four. I was in an all-girls group and we were crap! We kept getting stuck and it took us ages, but we had the most fun and kept causing waterfights with the dingy's who shot past us.
Eventually we made it and for the rest of the journey we floated down the river on a long Bamboo raft. I had a go at steering it with the Bamboo stick... and I think I did the best job, even if I do say so myself! Ha ha, either that or the water was calmer when it was my turn.
Got a Wild berry icecream for the drive home which took over an hour. What a brilliant daytrip - we'd packed so much in.
Had a quick shower then El and I headed out to find a chip shop that we'd seen signs for. Charlie, the English owner, gave us local newspapers to read while we waited and I realised it was the first
bit of news we've seen since we left England. We've not had access to a TV, Radio or magazines, so have been completely cut off and it was depressing to read about shootings, crashes and Swine Flu deaths. We got our take-out and headed back for a quiet night in.
Our Tour guide today said "An elephant never forgets, and Thai people believe if you touch an Elephant your memory will improve". I think it's safe to say I will never foget today.
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