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Published: October 3rd 2016
Chiang Mai : Back Packers World
The first thing I did when I got to my Chiang Mai hotel was to look for a hiking tour one that would fit my health and endurance. I soon found a suitable one in a 2 day hiking tour with an elephant ride and a sedate bamboo rafting thrown in. Booked it and looked forward eagerly for a pickup in the morning around 0930hrs.
Chiang Mai, contrary to my expectations, is quite a large city. The heart of the city was the city walls (which no longer exist) and a moat surrounding it. There was to be only two entries to inside the walls but, now have bridges over the moate wherever necessary. The Hotel was located inside the walls which made walking around the city visiting all the landmarks very easy.
Nearly 4-5 hours were required to walk around and see all the major attractions inside the city. There are temples at nearly every corner of the road but there was only 4 that needed special attention. Some of them had murals depicting the early Indian mythology tying to the birth of Buddha as prince. One had a small green
marble statue of Buddha purported to be 2500 years old. This is kept inside a fortification, but visible. Part of the Biggest temple dates back to 9th
century which also has staircases to the top from 4 sides as you see in the Mayan temples.
The food was reasonably cheap you could get a main meal below 80 bahts (2 Euro) and a beer for 50 bahts. They cook their food with pride and it is quite tasty.
Of the places I had visited in Thailand Chiang Mai is my favourite but a local told that Chiang Rai is even better and I should visit there. May be he is from there
A mini van collected me promptly on the morning of my trek . There were already 4 people in the truck, 2 Spanish girls and a young English couple from Eastbourne. We soon introduced ourselves Oisina and Veronica from Spain and Philip and Diana from England. It was an open back Mini van which drove around for nearly for 30 minutes before we got to the Butterfly farm. I knew from previous experiences that most tours took you some places where you could see something
informative ( as silk weaving, pearl farming, carving wood or stone) but also you were expected to buy something (no obligation). This place was beautiful with gracious gardens, an area for orchids and a garden for nurturing butterflies.
Soon we were back in the truck this time going to the north east. It took us more than an hour to get to a village where we were starting the trek. We had lunch here rested for some time and it was 12:00hrs before we set out on our trek. The village had a Catholic church and the guide told us that there is also a protestant church in the village. Some missionaries had been active in Thailand hills as well.
First hour into the trek we would have gained about 400-500m when the path became not so slteep. On the way the guide (Chat) was advising us to go easy and take rest as he did not want a casualty on his hands. He was asking especially to me if I was alright or whether he should take a less strenuous route. But, I was feeling fine, a little out of breath, so, we took the normal course.
This course gave us some beautiful panoramic views from some high vantage points when we could peer out of the foliage. We were moving through thick vegetation most of the time. However we could see the tracks already there.
Towards the end of the trek conditions started to deteriorate. There was a heavy thunder storm. As we had started to descend the track became muddy and slippery. The guide promptly made walking poles out of bamboo cane for everybody. This helped us greatly and we had only a few minor falls between us. We reached the “Jumbo Trekker Camp” before 1700 hrs where we met 3 Canadian lads who were on a 3 day tour.
The toilet facilities as expected were basic. For shower we had just water coming out at the end of a pipe, but at least we had a western toilet and washing facilities.
We had dinner in candle light. Whatever we ate was tasty even if we could not see it. A couple of beers made things smoother, we sat around a campfire chatting well into the night. Soon the exertion and the beer was catching up with us and most retired
to bed by 23:00 hrs. The increased height also meant the air was cooler and pleasant. All had put on lot of mosquito repellant, just in case.
As could be expected the dormitory had 9 mats side by side and a small thick hard 2 inch slab for a pillow. But all had mosquito nets over them, thank god. The lodge was beside a river roaring with recent rains. All through the night the sound of the river was a problem for sleeping that was in addition to the pillow and the hard floor.
In the morning nothing happened for some time. By the time we had breakfast and started to move it started to drizzle. The guides had to juggle with many a group and it was nearly 1200hrs when we got to another lodge and had our lunch and started our next trek to a water fall. Now the rain was falling heavily, but we braved it for the next trek. Again the tracks were mud holes by this time and small rivulets which we could just jump over had become raging rivulets. The trek was to the waterfall and back, but, the return had to
be abandoned. We got back to the road covered in mud and soaking wet and was picked up by the truck..
We also could not do the bamboo rafting as the river was very unsafe for that. Instead they organized white water rafting (brown water rafting really). We had nearly 30 minutes of this. As it turned out, this unscheduled program became the best part of the tour. We were swept through roaring currents, nearly turned over by rocks, soaked through by the waves in the rapids and it was an exhilarating ride.
We were soon back on land, a change of clothes and were driven back to our respective hotels.
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