Hill Tribe Trek: The house we stayed in.
We woke up to a few chickens crowing. That was'nt too bad but then the dogs started barking so I figured it was time to get up. It had been a cold night in the cabin. The blankets we had were not enough to keep me warm. That was the story for everybody else too. We started the day in front of the campfire to keep warm. The villager from next door was pulling coals out of the fire and dipping them in water to make charcoal (their source of cooking fuel). A few neighbors came by on their motor bikes to say hello.
Finally when everybody was up we had breakfast. Scrambled eggs and toast. Shortly after breakfast it was time for my group to head out. I was in the two day one night group as compared to the three day two night group.
Hill Tribe Trek: A house in the village.
We headed up the hill into the main part of the village. Once we got there there was a road that the village uses to access the village. And we though we were in a remote village, guess again. The road was a minor one and we walked along it for a way and didn't see but a few cars or motor bikes. The hill tribe people must keep to their vilage. Once in the village we saw houses, a little store, a school and an administrative building. The houses were pretty basic and only a few of them had cars. The houses were on stilts on the hillside. Usually this is to keep the animals out of the house. It may also have been easier to build the house on the steep hilside if it was on stilts. There were a few people out and about at their houses.
Hill Tribe Trek: The school in the village.
We peeked inside the school and saw some children in class. From there we hiked out of the town and contoured along the road, which had some nice views of the valley below. Eventually we took to a trail and hiked along that through some steeper terrain and along a ridge with some nice views. We stopped at a viewpoint on a ridgetop where we could see Doi Ithanon which is the highest peak in the country. From there we dropped down rather steeply, but the views were nice.. We stopped at a waterfall to take a little break. There was a little store set up under a shelter at the waterfall where a lady was selling drinks and snacks. From here the trail dropped down into the bottom of the valley and crossed a river on a bridge made of three sticks of bamboo.
Hill Tribe Trek: A bridge crossing with Water Buffalo underneath.
Under the bridge were a couple of water buffalos wallowing in the water. From here it was just a short hike over to where they picked us up in a pickup truck. The truck drove us down the rural roads through some interesting hill country and back to the restaurant where we had lunch yesterday. It was time for lunch. They gave us a similar meal to what they gave us yesterday but it was still good. After lunch we piled into the back of another sawngthaew with another group if trekkers from our guide company and headed out to go rafting. Just a little bit down the valley was the start of the bamboo rafting section of our trek. The rafts are made of bamboo poles lashed together into a basic raft that is about 4 feet wide and 20 feet long.
Hill Tribe Trek: Bamboo rafting down the river.
Riding the raft was fun. There is a person (a raft driver) who steers the raft around by poking away obstacles with a pole and another person from our group who is given another pole to steer the rear end of the raft too. The rafting was nice there were a few sections of rapid water and towards the end there was one spot where they made us sit down because it went through a little chute and there was a little drop. Pretty fun! You have to keep on your toes on a bamboo raft becasue they are a little tippy and you are not standing on the most stable surface. After we got off the rafts they showed us some pictures they had taken of us while we were rafting that they were selling. Mine was pretty good so I bought it they were only charging 100 baht ($3).
Chiang Mai: Just outside the walled city.
We jumped back in the back of the pickup truck and headed back to Chiang Mai and our guest house. Once back at the guest house they gave us rooms again. Mine was a diferent room and I think the first one was a lot better. The bathroom door had a doorknob that was loose and the bathroom was always wet because there was a dip in the floor before the drain which made it musty in there. It is livable though so no real complaints. My first task was to take a shower to get the trail grime and sweat off me.
Once I was clean again I went out in search of a camera store to get a new disk for my camera. I headed toward the Pae Gate area because I think I saw a camera store near there when we were riding around in the pickup truck after the trek.
Chiang Mai: Nearing Chinatown.
I head out along the moat along the outside of the walled city and explore around. I consult my map and decide to head over towards Warorot market. I follow the steet leading to it. There is not much to look at here just a lot of stores selling appliances. Eventually the street enters Chiang Mai's Chinatown. I see a big market building and head in. There are a lot of vendors inside with a lot of chinese things but also basic Thai staples for food. I buy some green curry paste, some red curry paste and some fried meal worms for the guys back at work. It is a big building and there are lots of things to see. I head out of this building and the market continues in stalls along the street and there is another building across the street that has vendors selling fruits and vegetables.
Chiang Mai: The bug lady at Worrorat Market.
I also see a lady selling some insects. She has some crickets, meal worms and some huge cockroaches. The cockroaches are huge and they are lying on their back with the legs sticking up and they don't look fried. The cockroaches don't look all that appealing so I don't even think about buying any of the crickets to try them. I took a picture to remember the moment. The lady looked bored and I am sure she gets a lot of Farang taking her picture selling her insects.
The market sits next to the river and there is an elevated street crossng and a footbridge across the river. It is a nice place to go to get an overview of the area. You can see the river and the market and all the traffic on the street. While I was up there I saw someone who looked like they could speak English so I asked him where he was from.
Chiang Mai: Chinatown oposite the bug lady.
He said he was from Australia and he was here with his wife and kids. He said the kids were bored with Thailand and were in the hotel room watching TV. We talked about favorite sites in town and I told him he had to go check out the bug lady. He said he might just do that and get a dinner for his kids who sinse they hadn't left the room would have to survive with what he got them.
Further down the river on the street is the flower market. I walked back toward my guest house down that street and saw all the flower vendors. There's a lot of them. I tied back into the main street in town heading toward the walled city and followed that to where I found the camera store and as luck would have it they had a disk for my camera.
Chiang Mai: Worrorat Market.
Now I can take more pictures. I drop my camera and new disk off back at my room and go out in search of dinner. I plan to look along the road just outside the walled city and if I find nothing check out the busy side street that leads to the night market (Thanon Loi Kroh).
As I am looking for a place to eat I see the Danish couple that was on my hill tribe trek. They have already had dinner but they are into going toward the night market too. We walked down Thanon Loi Kroh and checked it out. There are a lot of interesting looking bars and a few restaurants. One bar had some bar girls who were hanging off some Farang guys (might have to check that one out later). We reached the edge of night market and started browsing some of the vendors.
Chiang Mai: Worrorat Market in Chinatown.
Finally at the start of the big market area I broke off from the Danish trekker couple and looked down a side street for a good place to eat and I found one. There was a guy cooking out of a big pushcart and he had some tables set up in an empty lot. He had a menu he could cook off and I decided this was the place. I ordered a squid stir fry and took a seat. He was busy and it took a while for him to get to my order. But it was worth it becasue it was very good. I was watching him cooking and he had a nice selection of bottles of sauces and a person helping him prepare the food and someone helping to keep the tables clean and bring out drinks and meals. All in a vacant lot between two buildings. While I was there a boy came in and was trying to sell flowers strung on a necklace to the customers, he was even being persisten with me even though I was there alone.
Chiang Mai: The street outside Wat Mahwan.
After dinner I checked out the rest of the night market that I had not seen the first time I visited. There is another street that leads to an open plaza area where vendors set up. It is a festive scene. There is also another food area with food booths and a stage where there was some Thai dancing going on. While browsing the market I saw a blanket that I liked that was made in Hmong hill tribe village. I grab a snack at a vendor making roti. I get mine with honey and it is very good.Back to my room for a good night's sleep after a long, and good, day.
Click here for tomorrow's journal..........