So whilst we were in Chiang Mai we noticed there were plenty of opportunities to get out of this city and do some new activities. We agreed we would pick one activity each and the other had to do it. So i browsed around and found a Thai Farm cookery school, Alex wasn't exactly enthused by the idea but we made a deal and he had to agree. So Alex presents his activity, jungle trekking. . . a nice walk through the jungle, staying in a bamboo hut... he was winning me over and I agreed. I mean after all, it is just a long hike . . . we hike a lot at home... how hard could it be?
It was a rainy day in Chiang Mai but do not let the rain fool you in Thailand it will still be ridiculously hot and humid! Two men came to greet us at our accommodation, one who was pretty fluent in English and the other not so. We picked up a French family and I was in my element, we had some nice conversations on our way up and Alex and I both said oh it can't be
so bad, we've got two girls about 10 and 16 doing it. . . so must be suitable for kids too. We stopped and the French family got out, Alex and I peered out to see Elephants chained up . . . we the seats on their backs. After our recent visit to The Elephant Nature Park we knew this was an activity we would be sitting out of. . . but why had they not mentioned this to us when it was booked? The French family popped out and the minivan door was shut, what a relief that we were not going to be asked nor have to explain why we did not want to engage in riding the elephants. We drove a bit more through some remote villages, some rice and veggies were picked up on the way and then we pulled over at the side of the road and were told this was the start of the jungle trek . . . Alex and I looked at each other as if to say what . . . here?
We jumped out, full of enthusiasm ready to seize the day and off we set. The guy that
spoke practically fluent English got back in his van and the guy that spoke no English got out and gestured that we follow him. We did so . . . soon we were off the roads and into the "jungle". Surely it cannot be too hard we said, as Surat (our tour guide) had shoes that resembled crocs on, jeans and a cotton backpack. We tried to communicate with our guide but he knew some words in English and we knew some in Thai but the conversation was incredibly limited. Hand and facial gestures it would have to be. We followed on and as we got deeper and deeper into the jungle, the more unsure I was about what we were doing. Things started to feel quite dangerous and even Alex was unsure about what we had gotten ourselves into. We had to balance on a piece of wood (no more than 10cm wide) between the deep water in the rice fields, for all those who know I cannot ride a bike and have no balance so this was such a challenge for me. At various points we were on our hands and knees climbing because the incline was so
steep. We tried to ask how long/ far away we were from camp but unfortunately, our tour guide Surat could not understand us so we had to result to the good ole pointing at your wrist to replicate a watch . . . he said something in Thai and we were still as clueless. He said stop and mimicked eating food. We stopped in a field full of cattle at what can only be described as some planks of wood with a dodgy, hole filled roof with a Thai guy swinging around in a hammock picking things out of his teeth. By this point I had shared a few expletives and hand gestures of my own to Alex. I was not having fun, never mind the fact it was nearly 40 degrees and for all those who have experienced the humidity in Asia, will understand how hot we were feeling. Surat gestured that we sat down on the these planks of wood and we were to eat here. Whilst Surat pulled out the equivalent of a machete out of his backpack, Alex suggested we pose for a photo - I think my face speaks volumes about how I was feeling
in this picture. I was not a happy camper. He pulled out his machete and hacked at this gigantic watermelon, I have to admit i'm not into watermelon but this tasted soo good, the fruit does taste so much better in Thailand. Bit of rice for lunch, when in Thailand of course. We shared our lunch with the hammock swinging Thai local we had briefly met, he was very grateful and off we went again. Hours passed by and we were still in the thick of the jungle. Alex kept stressing for me to be careful where I put my hands as we climbed as I was putting my hands near spiders and many other creatures I would not have been happy about touching. We stopped by at many beautiful waterfalls and we requested a break each time to try and refresh ourselves, it was physically draining and I was unsure how much longer we would be able to continue. We had been climbing for 6 hours now in the intense heat and humidty, our daypacks were heavy, we were running low on water and our bodies were sweaty :-/. 8 hours finally passed, many dangerous situations encountered and we
could see a huge bamboo style tree house in the distance, we were so happy to be nearly at base camp . . . or so we thought!
We arrived at the bamboo hut and it was basic as we imagined, but more basic than we had thought. Sadly all of the mosquito nets were damaged so it was a night of the bugs feasting on me as they always do. The French family eventually joined us and they had done the "easy" route as their tour guide spoke practically fluent English so we made sure he translated to Surat that we needed an easier route home tomorrow. There was a lady at base camp who did all the cooking, it was so interesting to watch. Without electricity, it was amazing to see how she prepared us a Thai green curry, chopping up the vegetables, cooking the rice all whilst squatting down in her tiny rustic kitchen. Dinner was served and it was fab! We then sat with everybody by candlelight in our bamboo tree house singing songs from their songbook. Surat continued to sing what he had all day "alexico" also known as 'let it go' by Passenger.
He also enjoyed singing his one line of "don't worry be happy" which is something he had said to us all day although we were unsure he knew what it meant. He was in his element singing along. His attempt at a French song had us all in stitches. It was around 8 and everybody started to head to bed . . . we followed suit although not tired but did not want to sit in the dark on our own. Wincing as we clambered into our holey mosquito net, we wrapped ourselves up in the hope nothing we get us . . . ear buds in, eye masks on, jackets, full length pants and socks . . . sleeping bag zipped up to our faces . . . fair to say we were roasting! I had seen all the centipedes, cockroaches and spiders the size of my hand and I did not want to share a bed with them. The rain began, the thunder and lightening grew stronger, louder and closer. Great! Alex slept quite well, as he does anywhere, whereas I would say I realistically had about two hours sleep on and off so I did not feel
refreshed for the day ahead. When speaking to the French family, all of them said they did not sleep well either so I was relieved to know it was not just me.
We woke the next morning to a lovely breakfast cooked by our fab chef in her little rustic kitchen. We set off early, crossing the awful "bridge" we had encountered the day prior, it was wobbling everywhere and there were a few times I was sure I was going into that roaring river with my lack of balancing skills. The trek the following day was easier in comparison, but there were a few near misses shimmying along path that was a wide as your two feet next to each other, with stones and gravel falling down the almighty drop. We saw many more fantastic views on the way and the scenery was stunning. We had been walking for about four hours and met up with our French family who taken a different route in the morning. We were finally going to be rewarded with the last bit of our trip, bamboo rafting. We clambered aboard our bamboo raft, basically four pieces of bamboo put together with a
guy on the front who paddled us along. The water so was cold too so it was nice to cool us down, soothe my collection of bites and to sit back and relax...although not so keen when the guy on the raft infront volleyed a snake out the water into the tree! An hour later, souvenir photo purchased and were back on the minibus ready to head back to Chiang Mai for some luxuries like a shower and a soft bed with air con. We raced for the shower and were craving some junk food, so as typical tourists we headed to the McDonalds that was next to our hotel. We deserved it.
Early bed for us as we were up for the Thai Farm cookery school. We were sleep deprived and I need my sleep . . . some backpackers had decided to stay at Maccy's the whole night and were getting drunk, strange place to have drinks but I had no issue until they started to scream and shout and become so loud that they woke me from my sleep. I'm a needmysleepcannotfunctionwithout kinda girl. I had had enough...Alex turned over to see my with my head
stuck out of our window asking them to politely be quiet . . . they did not oblige so my manners went out of the window, literally, i just recall Alex muttering "Cat, why are you sticking your middle finger up out of the window?" They were police based at the square across the road and I think with all the commotion between us, the police moved them on. What a long 48 hours!
Once again up dark and early for our Thai farm organic cookery school experience, it was time for my choice! Time to learn how to cook Thai dishes, properly and not from a jar! It was a fab day, we met so many people from all over and learnt how to cook and got to eat and take away our very own dishes. Much more relaxing!
Although I absolutely cursed Alex for a solid 48 hours, I am so glad we did it. We have lived to tell the tale and now we do laugh about it. You have to. This is all part of our travels and as it states at the start of my travel journal...
"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."
From Chiang Mai, with love x
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