Trekking through hill-tribe villages in north Thailand

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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I lead the Elephant train

Thailand still has large ethnic hill-tribe communities thriving in their villages throughout the north.  They live off the land and their bizarre religion (mixing Buddhism and Animism) is largely based on the seasons and the elements that our world provides.  They openly believe in spirits and ghosts.  A little money is important, but textile making and trading is largely how they survive in our developing world.  They are still hunters and gatherers and have learned to raise animals and farm.  Tourists have become welcomed since we bring money in our pockets.  I got to spend a few days living among them.

We started with an elephant ride along the river through the plush mountainside hills.

Ooohhh la la!!!! um, hello there.
  It felt a little like a Disneyland ride.  For those of you who didn't know, elephants are an endangered species.  There are only two species left - African and Asian.  However, many specialists believe that "pet elephants" are actually what will save them.  "Pet" elephants are properly fed and put to work to excercise their over-sized and over-weight bodies.  So, I didn't feel so bad about putting my nearly 200lbs. on its neck for a few hours.

Arriving at the bamboo hut villages was an amazing site.  And, now I can actually imagine what it is like to live in a bamboo house.  Material possession for these folk are usless, and therefore meaningless.  One night, I sat excitedly next to Jakay to show him my iPod and all the music and photos it had on it.

a hill-tribe home!
  But, he didn't care.  He had no interest in my little white gadget.  He prefered to sing horrifying cover-songs of Bob Marley and The Offspring.

Somehow, sleeping under the stars has a whole new meaning to me after this journey.  I've gazed up into the sparkling dark heavens while walking in the barren coldness of central Turkey, meditating on the enormous slopes of the Himalayas, laying in the soft sands of the Indian desert, floating on the peaceful backwaters of south India and sleeping next to beautiful streams in the jungles of north Thailand.  Looking up there makes me wonder what this world is all about - what my role is on this planet - and why I am here, now - in 2008.  It makes me ask many questions.  Questions that I can't answer.  But, questions that force me to search with effort if I truly want to know the answers.  And, searching for these answers is a quest that sometimes seems overwhelming.  Isn't this what my entire journey is about - searching for answers?  Well then, why does it seem like there are always more questions than answers?  All I know is that it is the questions that are guiding me forward......

korrahh says:
Great experiance! For me too things take on a whole new meaning in new environments and questions arise that I never had.
Posted on: Feb 01, 2008
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I lead the Elephant train
I lead the Elephant train
Ooohhh la la!!!!  um, hello there.
Ooohhh la la!!!! um, hello there.
a hill-tribe home!
a hill-tribe home!
Hill-tribe children in north Thail…
Hill-tribe children in north Thai…
Our bamboo hut.  Yes - it got cold…
Our bamboo hut. Yes - it got col…
Our home-stay.  12 of us slept in …
Our home-stay. 12 of us slept in…
Sleeping quarters in our bamboo hu…
Sleeping quarters in our bamboo h…
local hill-tribe women
local hill-tribe women
Riding elephants.
Riding elephants.
Can I have another banana? asked…
"Can I have another banana?" aske…
Beatiful streams to cross.
Beatiful streams to cross.
waiting for dad....
waiting for dad....
yes - that is a machete the standi…
yes - that is a machete the stand…
sling-shot practice
sling-shot practice
Slingshot practice - hit the plast…
Slingshot practice - hit the plas…
My turn!  Believe it or not, i hit…
My turn! Believe it or not, i hi…
cutey.
cutey.
Late night games are essential in …
Late night games are essential in…
Our hill-tribe trek leader.
Our hill-tribe trek leader.
Mighty bamboo can grow 1 inch per …
Mighty bamboo can grow 1 inch per…
Our trekking crew.
Our trekking crew.
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes