In The Jungle

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

We didn't have to leave until 9:30 today so I got an unusual lie in! Still had to pack all my stuff as I'm getting as messy as back home. The second I arrive anywhere the entire contents of my backpack seems to magically appear on the floor.

The backpack they provided for me for the duration of the trek was packed full with every item I could possibly need and it was soon apparent that I had packed far too much as everyone else had tiny packs that were nearly empty.

Made an itemised list of all my valuables I was leaving behind in the safety box. Don't think I'll be needing my credit card in the jungle but my mobile is definitely coming in case I magically get signal and can receive the Spurs score!

Got in the big tuk-tuk called a Sawngthaew, which literally means 2 sides, but all the drivers still call them tuk-tuks. We'd used them in Laos all the time so I'm used to them and this was a particularly luxurious one, lots of padding. Everyone else hadn't used many and so didn't really enjoy the long journey.

We stopped of at a market and were instantly surrounded by people trying to sell us water bottle holders. I actually bought one! First time I have ever bought anything off one of these sellers but I imagine I'll need to keep my hands free during the trek. Bought some other essentials in the shop before getting back on the road.

Stopped for lunch at a cosy little place for some rice. Like being in Luang Nam Tha again with loads of chickens running all around your feet whilst trying to eat. Andrews chair managed to break, sending him crashing to the floor, causing much laughter amongst the group.

Back onboard the tuk-tuk but were told we could ride on the roof if we wanted! Hell yeah!! Well it wasn't very comfortable or safe and bloody windy so I was glad to be back inside when we stopped. A couple of people had spotted an elephant but I had missed it. Saw loads of elephant crossing signs which I thought were funny. We have something similar back home only for frogs....I did see a guard with a machine gun though as I got off the roof!

The tuk-tuk then struggled, and I mean first gear struggling, up the really steep hill and I thought we were going to have to get off and push! We finally arrived at our first stop and were chased by kids up the street as we arrived. This was the Lisu tribe and we were mobbed by kids. At the start they were really sweet but give it a few minutes and if you haven't given them any sweets then they get vicious! I had nothing on my but managed to avoid a lynching and only got a few light punches to the legs. Others got soaked by water pistols and got kicked by some nasty kids. Looks like the treks have really damaged this tribe and the kids just see us for free sweets and money.

We stayed here for about an hour in the end, mainly because Andrew and Rob were playing chess. I was more than ready to move on after 20 minutes. From this village we actually started hiking, and it was difficult. It was uphill the majority of the way and we were glad to stop every 15 minutes or so for a rest. The views were quite a sight and we had to walk over some really slippery stones and bamboo poles to get across rivers.

We stopped for the night at another village, the Lahu I believe, which was to be our base for the night. Very basic accommodation. A bamboo hut for the 10 of us to sleep and I was quite looking forward to it.

After dumping our stuff we headed outside to play some cards. The kids seemed fascinated for a while, although the boys soon got bored and started fighting after a while and generally acting as all little boys do and cause mischief. We were all pretty tired so just basically sat around doing nothing for the rest of the afternoon until dinner, not that there was anything else to do in the town really.

Dinner was actually very good. Veggie curry and sweet and sour. Considering how hungry I was I hardly ate much and was pretty glad when we found out after that the locals get to eat whatever is leftover! No wonder they kept peeping their heads round the corner to see how much we were eating!

After the dinner the kids put on a show for us. It looked like all the kids in town were there, dressed up in tribe gear and singing their hearts out. It was fantastic and I don't think I have smiled so much on the whole trip. I loved it! The girls were putting in loads of effort and the boys really didn't' want to be there. There was one girl trying to out-do all the others and be the centre of attention which was really funny. The best was a sweet little boy who couldn't have been more than 3, who was so tired he could hardly keep his eyes open but he still tried to copy the others as best he could. I think everyone in the room was transfixed on him. We were asked to give a small donation for school equipment and everyone gave more than they asked for. I thought it was brilliant. Tiffany, an Aussie girl, was plucked from the crowd to dance and was so obviously uncomfortable that it was hilarious!

After the song and dance routine people gradually began drifting off to bed. Most people were cold but I didn't find it so bad and sat around chatting to our guide until around 10 before going to our hut.

Everyone in there was freezing, especially Julia, who seems to be cold all the time, so I threw her all the spare blankets. She had at least 6 blankets but was still cold! I just had my sleeping bag and Tibetan socks which was more than enough to keep me toasty.
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