Sunday 10th June – 2 day Hill Tribe Trek
Monday 10th June – Hill Tribe Trek
I signed up for a 2 day hill-tribe trek, which involves hiking through the Thai jungle for a couple of hours, finishing up at a small Thai village for the night.
I met the rest of the people on my group, which turned out to be a
large group of English, about 11 of them, a really nice Dutch girl I
had met the night before. And Lisa, one of my current travelling
partners who I met in Ayathaya with her husband. The English group were all around 18/19 years old so I had my concerns about them being rather young and in a large group.
We started by driving for an hour and a half out of Chiang Mai to a waterfall. The rocks were made of limestone, so there was enough grip to walk up it. The water was the perfect temperature and great for a spot of gorge walking.
After the waterfall we drove another hour up into the hills where westarted our hike through the jungle.
The hike lasted about 3 hours with a mix of uphill, down hill and
flat. It roughly followed a creek that was running down the mountain and was a lot of fun. The heat certainly added an extra level of difficulty to the trek and I’m glad I had lots of water with me. I
spent most of the hike talking to Angela, the Dutch girl, who actually is a lot of fun. My kind of girl.
At the end of the hike we took an Elephant ride for the final hour to
the village. How cool? I had no idea there would be Elephants in Thailand! And I’m riding one! The ride was pretty much as I expected
it would be, once you got into the rhythm of the animals movements it was actually quite comfortable. What amazing animals. Ours seemed to want to lead and at every opportunity tried to overtake those in
We arrived in the village which houses around 200-300 people. We were shown around the centre of the village, which included the hut where
we would all be sleeping, the hut where we would be eating, the toilet and shower. The shower was an outdoors hosepipe behind a wooden fence. Pretty much what I was expecting from a small village such as this. There is running water, also used for irrigation in the fields,
but no electricity and the only construction is thatched, wooden huts, surprisingly well constructed.
Our group chilled out in the sleeping hut, while a couple of us sat in the dining area hoping to mix with the village folk.
I was hoping that our guide would tell us something about the tribe, their history, customs, etc. but this never happened. I did overhear
him later tell one of the group that they are originally from Myanmar (Burma). We also didn’t get to speak to any of the village people,
even though they don’t speak English our guide could have translated. In fact, before dinner I only saw about 5 of the locals.
Our guide cooked us a really nice Thai curry with chicken and vegetables and we had a couple of beers.
After dinner 12 of the female children performed a local dance and song for us. I felt some of the young English group were quite rude
in not paying attention and talking amongst themselves. When the performers finished, the encouraged us to join in and dance with them, by dancing around the campfire. Again, the English group showed their ignorance by not getting involved.
After this, we were asked to sing a song back to the tribe. The English group, again, pretty much ignored them and I had to step in to get them to join in. I suggested we sing something simple and fun… But they decided that Wonderwall, and Hey Jude would be more appropriate. I thought these were pretty poor choices and surprise surprise we was terrible. After each rendition they hustled up into their group with more alcohol to talk between themselves, and in my opinion, appear ignore our hosts. I was quite embarrassed at the way we appeared to conduct ourselves in front of our hosts.
After this, the tribe retired to bed and the English group stayed up drinking whisky, tequila (or rice wine) and beer. Whilst half of them are sitting talking in the sleeping area. The thought of getting
drunk and dehydrated before our 2 hour hike home tomorrow is silly. Also really annoying for us (oldies) trying to sleep.
I also hope they are not being too noisy and disturbing our hosts. We have a great opportunity here to meet some really great local villagers and I don’t think I have had the experience I could have. I think our guide could have integrated us a bit more and these kids could have a bit more respect. I also accept that I probably would have been exactly the same at that age.
I am lying under my mosquito net writing this waiting for them to shut up so I can go to sleep! I’ll update on tomorrows part when we get back to Chiang Mai….
After going to bed at 9pm, I finally got settled just after 1pm, when the kids finally shut up (after a couple of prompts from me!)
Tuesday 11th June – Hill Tribe Trek
Woke up this morning after about 5 hours sleep and had some breakfast. Angela, Lisa and I were the first up and I had to give the others a gentle nudge!
After breakfast the tribe set up a small market where we could buy some locally (maybe!) trinkets, hats, jewellery and other typical Thai Market stuff. I bought some new beads to help them out.
After this I took a quick walk around the village to take some photos. As we walked we noticed about 4 big Satellite dishes and some Solar panels! So they obviously have some electricity and access to the outside world!
It turns out that some of the local tribesmen were up with the English guys last night and it occurred to me this morning, that they probably wouldn’t have a problem with people staying up late making noise as they will be buying more alcohol and providing more money to the local economy. So I didn’t fell as bad about the noise as I did last night, well from the tribe point of view, I was still annoyed at being kept awake!
We started our trek back to Chiang Mai, and the walk today was much easier than yesterday. We only trekked for about an hour and the terrain was not as gruelling. After an hour, we got into a car and drove on for about half an hour to the Bamboo Raft place where we were to take a quick raft ride. I was hanging on to the back of the car as there wasn’t enough space for us all to sit inside. This was fun and quite cool as you got a good breeze being on the outside!
As we travelled to the bamboo raft centre I got to know some of the other guys a bit more and they were all really nice people. I guess yesterdays issues were down to them not making it easy for us to integrate into their ready-rolled group.
The bamboo raft was a lot of fun. As expected not everyone managed to stay on the raft and there were a lot of us changing rafts a few times!! Very funny. According to the guy punting our raft, this was pretty common!!
The rafting lasted about an hour and a half and after this was a car back to Chiang Mai.
Overall I really enjoyed the experience, but there were a few things that I thought could have been better. The hiking and the activities were great, but I thought we could have had a better experience with the tribe. I still don’t know what they are called or anything about them, their customs or history. That is a shame. I guess next time, I will have to make sure I ask more questions!