Chiang Mai and Hill tribe trek

Trip Start Feb 01, 2007
Trip End Jan 17, 2008

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Chiang Mai- free day
Night Market....
After a week at the elephant park, we headed back to Chiang Mai. Everyone from my tour plus others from the elephant park agreed to me up for a meal at a place called Tuskers. The owner had donated money to the park and had also bought an elephant for the park. As the restaurant had only been open a couple of weeks it didn't have many staff of cooks. Each meal came out 1 at a time.  Some people gave up and went to eat elsewhere. We had one free day in Chiang Mai before heading up to the hill tribes. The 2 Kelly's, Matt and I went for a walk around Chiang Mai town centre. Chiang Mai, is a small place compared to Bangkok, and a lot more welcoming and friendly. Later that night we went to the Night Market, which spanned a huge area, this was a good place to test out my bargaining skills.

The following day, we left for the hill tribes. We had to leave our backpacks in at the hotel and had to cram everything we wanted into our daypacks. We stopped by a waterfall. The first day involved a 2 hours trek to a Karen tribe village where, we would stop the night. Northern Thailand has many different tribes which have origins from Burma, China, and Vietnam etc. The trek involved following a trail up and down mountains and over stream and bamboo bridges. Once we arrived at the village, our guide told us about the history of the tribe and village. One thing that shocked me was that most of the huts had solar power. This was so the children could read books at night. The power was also used for TV's and other electrical equipment. The following day (Wed 14th Feb) involved a 3hour trek in the morning; we stopped at another village for lunch. Rachel, Jon, and Kelly (Sydney) decided to get a raft the rest of the way to our final village. The raft was built from scratch. The rest of us carried on with the trek for another 2 hours. We had to cross a river bare foot, which was one of the most painful experiences I've had, the stones on the river bed dug into my feet. Eventually, we made it to the other side and carried on the village where we would be staying the night.
All the villages we went to looked the same, we all shared a single room, which had mosquito nets. Outside the huts was a fire pit, the nights and mornings were really cold, so it was a relief when the fire was started. The final village was that of the Lasu tribe, a group of them came to our hut to perform a local dance. On of the dances, had his kid strapped to him as he danced. The final day included a 2hour bamboo raft journey. The bags were put on poles at the front of the raft while we were spaced out to the rear. We had two locals navigating, we had to make sure we didn't shift our body weight too much other wise we could land on the rocks below. On some of the bends we had to knee down, to lower our centre of gravity, so that the navigators could go over the rapids with ease. After 2hours on a raft we eventually pulled along side a restaurant located next to the river where we had lunch. On the way back to our hotel we stopped by a place that turned elephant poo, into photo albums and note pads.

Later that night a few of us went to see Thai boxing, we managed to get front row seat. There was about 7/8 fights scheduled, ranging from young kids to adults. So of the fight lasted a few rounds, where as other were KO'd within seconds. The weirdest fight was between 4 young kids who were blind folded and placed at each corner of the ring. They then had to fight each other, most the time the kids would hit thin air. But on a few occasions they managed to find and hit each other. Sometimes they even hit the ref. Although, we were all laughing our heads off, most the Thai spectators were not. We weren't sure whether it was a serious fight or just messing around. I wasn't sure what skills it helped to develop.
On the final day in Chiang Mai, a few of us went to a half-day Thai cookery course. It cost about 700baht and we learnt how to cook 3 Thai dishes. None of which I will probably be able to recreate. While making one of the dishes, the chef told us we could make 'Adventure', which meant make the wok, explode in flames, which was pretty cool. Included at part of the course we were given a cook book, which included, the dishes we made.
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