Trekking around Chaing Mai

Trip Start Jan 04, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, January 13, 2005

After finishing our beery few days in Bangkok we headed north to Chaing Mai, with the intention of doing a 3 day trek with a couple of friends, Andy and Fi. We took the train from Bangkok which takes 13 hours, but it was a blast. We took our seats and headed straight for the bar / restaurant car (a good bit of advice for anyone looking to pass the time drinking is get there early, it gets full quickly!). Got drunk quite quickly and met loads of people (almost the entire car), so hi to Liz and Beth from the states, also to Andy and his 2 sisters ('fraid we can't remember all the names), and to Kitty and Pierre from Netherlands, hope you all had fun in Chiang Mai. The downside to the train journey was the lack of sleep, although we all had bunks I couldn't get a wink of sleep all night, and arrived in Chiang Mai feeling like the undead. We spent the day sorting out our accommodation and booking flights down to Koh Samui (our next destination after the trek. A few drinks and a power nap later (i.e. the morning after) we were ready for our trek, or so we thought we were. We started with a rope bridge crossing, not the luxury kind you see on Indiana Jones, but just 2 bits of rope over a river, photos will appear once I get them. The whole group managed to cross without falling in (even me ... barely), the guide said falling in it wasn't uncommon, although deaths were rare.

The rope bridge was followed by a 3-4 hour trek, all uphill, and we we're knackered by the top. A bloke from another group was busy being sick about 100 yards from the camp, so I was quite surprised I made it, especially after the drinks the night before. The hill tribe used to make a living growing opium until 10-15 years ago, then the government cracked down and they now host groups of travellers for 'genuine' experiences. 1st night was freezing and again got not sleep (getting used to that now), but second day was more relaxed, with a 5 hour trek (not all uphill thankfully), where we took in a couple of waterfalls, and stayed in a slightly more luxurious hut (still no shower and a hole in the group for the toilet, but these had an inch think mattress which was like a Marriot to us). The second evening was spent drinking far too much, our group consisted of us 4 English, 3 french, 1 kiwi, 1 Aussie, 2 Americans and 1 dutch. The English / kiwi bar bill in the morning was a bit steep but we had fun. The highlight for all (except me), was when I fell off the hut while trying to find the toilet in the dark, it hurt a bit but in the morning when I looked where I fell I was lucky not to have damaged myself more severely. Lesson learned, be careful when drinking in the jungle. Day 3 was the best, started with a short trek, then elephant riding (again photos will follow later), which was awesome. Then we had a short break before white water rafting, and a spot of lunch. The back to the travel centre for warm showers (felt like the nicest shower of my life). Our group of 4 was due to head to Koh Samui the same evening so we had to kill a few hours, and then another 6 hours in Bangkok airport between flights. Koh Samui update will follow...
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