Trekking with uncle nuu nuu

Trip Start Mar 10, 2007
Trip End Jan 01, 2007

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

After the horrible bus ride, crammed in with Thais for about 6 hours in the scorching heat and no air con, i was delighted to find my hotel had a swimming pool, even if it was bug infested (i got used to them after sharing a room with them in Sukhothai). A relaxing day was definately in order and i spent it by the pool, then checked out the night bazaar, where my first of man amazing fruit shakes was bought (I'm living off of them now!).
       The next item on my Chiangmai itinerary was a three day, two night trek, which was one of the highlights of my trip so far, though its a shame that due to it being the hot season, everyone is heading to the beaches, otherwise I'd have gladly traveled with all the people i trekked with.
        Anyway, the first part of our trek worth mentioning was the elephant riding, which i really didn't enjoy to be honest. I found it quite upsetting to see the elephants mistreated like that and paraded around in the scorching sun like circus acts. They seemingly got no breaks either, as the second people got off another bunch were loaded on. I got the impression the elephants really weren't very happy at all here, so i was glad that it was only 15 mins. I asked our guide Nuu Nuu what he thought and he laughed then said he thought it was good, as its easier for the elephants than the work they would be doing if they were used for labour/farming etc. Whilst that's probably true, i got the impression that he was giving me 'the party line'. After this we were fed well (a recurring feature of this trip i assure you) then we walked to the village of the Karen tribe where we would spend the night. There are three different types of Karen tribes:- white clothed, red clothed and the long neck tribe, and we visited the white clothed (who it turns out like to do drunken dances mocking the long neck, a little bit of rivalry there i sense). On the way we stopped at a lush little waterfall for a swim, which in this heat was the most refreshing thing i can imagine, even better than a mango smoothie i reckon.
          The Karen tribes people were soo much fun, and i did feel at ease with them, although walking around their village felt a little strange at first. We played a drinking game with them for mos of the night, sitting round a fire on this bamboo open courtyard type platform area on stilts, with a fantastic view of the scenery below. The game was called 007  BANG! and involved smearing charcoal on peoples' faces when they made a mistake, so naturally by the end of it we all looked like minstrels, although the locals weren't much better!
        One noteable detour of that evening was when the guys asked if they could possibly get 'anything to smoke' at which the response was 'no, but will you help me carry some fire wood from up there in a second'. Following him, we made a brief stop off by a few more locals where various substances were produced, smoked and drunk (some sort of drug they smoke and home made moonshine for the innocent among you, yes you Corrin!).
          The following day  followed pretty much the same pattern, walking to the next village where we would spend the night, stopping on the route for another swim and even a 2 hour nap in the shade as it was soo hot (god i hate this trekking lark i thought to myself! lol) The girls however decided that it was too hot and cut their trek down to 2 days and 1 night, which we later found out was a big mistake, as the guy who took them back got lost and they ended up trekking in the sun far more than we did.
              The evening was a much quieter one, though by no means less enjoyable. We met one of the villagers now known as the legendary Poti, who was born deaf and used paper to communicate with us, writing the words he had learnt in English so far and signing the rest. I found it really enjoyable and satisfying communicating with him and sort of felt like I'd made a friend there. It was really good fun and a further suggestion to me that i might enjoy more specific one on one teaching in the future. (oh and mum he also said that i need to eat more and bulk up as I'm too skinny, obviously its not just your opinion!)
        Poti, it turns out, also like his pot, and is very happy to share it around, hence the main focus of the evening (bongs and all). The villagers also knew several mental puzzles involving knot and rope tricks so we spent the night drinking, smoking and trying to figure these tricks out.
       Day 3 involved walking back towards our departure point for the bamboo rafting. This was fairly tame but nonetheless i manages to crash our raft several times and fall off. It was really fun and as we were going down the river we encountered hundreds of Thai families who it seems used the riverside to have Sunday picnics. All the Thai kids kept jumping on our raft, talking to us, splashing us and asking us questions. It was great to interact with the locals like that ( though one fat Thai kid nearly sunk our raft on his own), and i even got a free glass of Chang out of it! Chocdee everyone!
         After the trek we all met up for a few drinks with Nuu Nuu at our guest house and then on into town where, as i didn't go out really in Bangkok due to songkran, i encountered my first lady boy sightings. They were everywhere, to be honest if i was out here on the pull there's no way i would try anything in Thailand, i just wouldn't ever be sure what i was letting myself into, sometimes its hard to tell (other times not quite so hard, i.e the fat guys with deep voices in dresses).
        My final day in Chiangmai i did the Pad Thai cookery course, which was taught by two ladies, Nokki and Meow, who were both very funny and obsessed with sexual innuendos, which are fairly easy to include when you run a cookery school. Dishes included Panang curry chicken, spicy BBQ beef salad, fried morning glory (tee hee)m som tam (spicy papaya salad) mango sticky rice and stir fried chicken with rice. We also made green curry paste ('Ben you must pound the ingredients like you would your girlfriend, harder, faster, more, more, again again!') and were given a recipe book so we could do so again at home, which i will definitely do.
       In the evening the trekkers all went to see the Muay Thai boxing in town, which was good on the whole, though o would say it was a little too long and there were times when they seemed to be just dancing around and not doing anything. I reckon if you are gonna see some and want to see it done properly, pay the extra money and see it in Bangkok on a Tuesday or Thursday,as its the best in the country there. It was funny to see the Swedish guy fight though, as he was billed as the main event, got in the ring, got absolutely pounded and didn't last the first round. The fights here were clearly fixed though, which spoiled it  a bit.
        So now I'm in Chiangrai, and as i don't wanna do another trek yet i thought I'd just use the time to get my act together, update you all and sort things out etc, as I'm off into Laos now, where email will be a lot more scarce i think.
Still yet to have a banana pancake though guys, sorry to disappoint, maybe when i go south!
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