Trekking is hard work!

Trip Start Sep 14, 2010
Trip End Dec 16, 2010

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Where I stayed
In a Karen hill tribe hut

Flag of Thailand  , Chiang Mai,
Friday, September 24, 2010

After checking out of the hostel, I got on a van that drove around Chiang Mai picking up other people for treks,too. I was first told that the trek programme I had booked for was cancelled due to rain & flooding, and that I had to join a different programme, which was pretty similar. However, I was later told, the programme I'd booked for was on again & I could join it. So, I dropped off my belongings at a storage room in a hostel associated with the travel agency & packed up a little rucksack they had lent me. The van for my trekking programme was waiting for me; the other van had delayed me by half an hour, it seems. When I got on, a girl said we should exchange t-shirts, because hers read "little ms. late". I explained the mix-up to the group & that my delay was beyond my control.

And so the trip begins. The group consisted of 7 people: 2 Israeli couples on their honeymoon (Bar & Mor, and Noam & Karen), a Japanese guy (Hero), the Thai tour guide (Boon) & me. We had a driver at the start & end of the trip. With this mix of people, it is natural that we had chats & discussions about politics, religion, and culture, as well as random subjects (i.e. the Eurovision). It was fun getting to know the group, especially as there was a good vibe & we all clicked. We briefly stopped somewhere for our tour guide to pick up food for our lunch, as well as ingredients for dinner & breakfast that he was cooking for us; the rest of us got some drinks. We then continued the ride until we arrived at the Mae Wang area, where started our trek through the rain forest. Shortly after, we reached a waterfall & had lunch (vegetable fried rice & a relative of lychee for dessert). What followed was a tough, steep trek upwards. I was huffing & puffing at times & ready to give up. Only, that wasn't an option, as we were so deep in the jungle already. At one point, we reached a tiny village where the Mong tribe live, but it was deserted, as they were all at work. Boon explained a bit about them. What I remember: they're originally from China, but moved to Laos, then scattered to Thailand & other countries; many of them have also been moved to the USA. This tribe is polygamous & up to 4 wives live with the husband & kids in one hut. We got to see the inside of one of the huts. Later, we finally reached our destination, a village where the Karen tribe lives. This tribe originated from Burma, is monogamous, and the women wear a white dress until they're married. After watching a few of the Karen people fix/change their piping system & looking around for a bit (huts & animals), Boon brought us to our hut, where we settled, chose our "beds" & prepared our mosquito nets. The hut was very clean, but also very simple. It's made of wooden/bamboo sticks (lots of holes in between!) and there's no door to close. There's also no electricity. Very hungry, we were excited when Boon brought us the food he had cooked, which was very good. One of the Israelis lit candles & made a prayer, as it was Yum Kippur. It was a nice experience, especially because the candles looked cute on their candle holders: smashed beer cans. After dinner, we hung out for a bit, then went to bed. We heard a baby crying & one of the neighbours shouting for the baby to stop. I think I fell asleep at 9.30pm! One could hear crickets all night, as if they were right next to you. But it was a calming sound. Nevertheless, I (& it seems everyone else) tossed & turned a lot, and woke up frequently. I kept rotating between putting my ear plugs in & taking them out. At 4-something in the morning, the annoying chickens started crickri-kii-ing and we all woke up & got out of bed between 7 & 7.30am. After breakfast, packing up & getting ready, we continued our trek. It was so much easier, as we were going downhill. We reached another waterfall, where we went for a swim, which was especially nice, as it cooled us down. We then continued the trek for another few hours. I was sooo excited when we reached the end, where we bought some drinks & got picked up by a van. We were brought to an elephant stop, where we rode on elephants for about an hour, then had lunch. As we got back on the van, I really was ready to go home, but we had one more activity: bamboo rafting. However, it was lots of fun & I got completely soaked. Finally, we got on the van again & headed back to Chiang Mai, where I picked up my belongings from storage & got dropped off at my hostel.

I must mention, that Boon taught us a lot about the tribes and (weird) insects throughout the trek.

Overall, I'm so glad I did this trek. What a great experience! I have to admit, it's not my kind of thing, but it was definitely worth it. Also, Boon was fantastic, funny, & informative. And my trekking partners were great, which made the experience even better.
A special thanks goes to my strong legs, healthy knees, and new (yet now old-looking) Berghaus shoes. I couldn't have done it without them!!!

The first thing I did after checking in at the hostel was take a shower. How good it felt! After that, I relaxed a bit, went for dinner, then watched some TV before spreading out in my bed & falling asleep...
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