An overnight trek to a Hill Tribe village.

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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Hang Dong: Market place in the twon of Hang Dong.

My trek leaves at 9:50 so that gives me plenty of time to go find a breakfast on the street.  I end up finding some nice noodle soup at a street vendor out on a corner of the walled city.  The streets are busy and it is interesting watching the traffic pass by as I slurp my noodle soup.  Noodle soup is popular in Thailand for breakfast and just about any time of day.  I have decided it makes a good breakfast and is more trustworthy than a western style breakfast which never really seems to be the same as at home.  I head back to the guest house after breakfast and go hang out in the lobby area.  I hang out with some of the people who are going on my trek that I met last night at the organizational meeting.  There are two guy from Ireland who are nice and it is nice being able to talk the same language even if they have a funny accent.

Hang Dong: Market place in the twon of Hang Dong.
   

Our trekking group piles into the back of a sawngthaew pickup truck and heads out.  There are about 10 of us and two guides.  We stop at a market outside of town in the town of Hang Dong to pick up the food for our meals.  They let us browse the market as the guide buys the food for our dinners.  This is a small town market and there are some interesting things in the food area.  There is a terrible smell from somewhere in the meat vendors area.  It smells like dog poop but this is a market so there should be no dog poop here.  Must be some kind of meat or something.  We check out some fruit vendors and they have some red apples like I tried when I was in Ko Lanta.

Hill Tribe Trek: Riding elephants in Thailand.
  I show them to the guys from Ireland and they buy one.  They are impressed with how they taste.  I like them and I don't really like American apples that much.  We pile back into our truck and continue on our way.  Eventually we are in the countryside and then we are climbing into the hills and the roads are geting more and more winding.  The guides have been hanging off the back of the pickup truck on the bumper the whole time. One of the guides was even talking on his cell phone a couple of times. 

Finally we pull off the main road and pull into a little parking lot and get out.  There is a short trail through the woods leading to the start of our elephant ride.  There is an elephant here chained to the ground.

Hill Tribe Trek: Riding elephants in Thailand.
  A couple of us go over to check him out.  He is pretty friendly but you need to keep him at the end of his chain and stay away from his trunk which is strong.  He could push you over with his trunk.  His skin is pretty thick and he has a little bit of course hair on his body.  The rest of the elephants come back from a ride and now it is our turn to go for a ride.  They pair us up in twos and we get in the chairs on their back by going up a little loading staircase they made to get people loaded on.  Everyone in our group is loaded on so we head out.  Not very far out, just out of sight of the start, we get to the first feeding area where we can buy a bag of bananas and sugar cane stalks for 20 baht (about 60 cents).  The elephants know what is happening and they always seem to be hungry.
Hill Tribe Trek: Feeding elephants in Thailand.
  They send up their trunk and we give them a treat. They could eat all day the way they keep asking for food.  Our driver is smarter though and he sits up on the top of the elephant's head and that makes it so he won't tip his trunk up towards us where he can get a handout.  There are several of these feeding stations and it gets a bit old after awhile but with our driver up on his head we save ourselves a few baht.  The elephant ride is only about a half hour and it takes us up the ridge a little and gives us a view of the other side of the valley that we are in.  The elephants are capable of staying on a pretty narrow trail and negotiating some steep switchbacks on the trail.  Towards the end of the ride our driver offers to let one of us ride up on the elephants neck.
Hill Tribe Trek: The elephants at the elephant ride spot.
  I take up the offer and it is pretty fun.  You have to keep ahold of it though with your legs.  I wasn't about to balance up on his head like the driver was doing though so it was feeding time for the elephant.  He devoured the last two bags of goodies we had bought him.  It was a short ride and kind of touristy but it was fun getting to see and ride an elephant.  Something you can't do every day. 

We said goodbye to the elephants and headed back into the little town that we were in and had lunch at a restaurant.  Good stuff.  Another tasty Thai meal.  I figured I better go to the bathroom before we head out so I went to the bathroom at the restaurant and took the picture below.  It was a lovely squat toilet.

Hill Tribe Trek: A squat toilet. This is typical for non tourist Thailand.
  You step up on the porcelain footrests and do your thing.  I guess these are pretty common in Thailand in non tourist areas  (We had one of these for the bathroom at our cabin tonight too).  The hiking part of our trek begins behind the reataurant.  We start hiking up through the fields behind the town and up into the hills.  The first part is pretty steep but that gets us up for a good view of the valley.  There are banana tree plantations and other crops in the fields on the side of the hill.  Luckily that was the steepest part of the hike and now we are traversing up a ridge and into a valley where there is a nice little river.  It feels a little jungle like but also drier than a jungle would be.  We are in the dry season righ now so maybe that is why it has the dry feel.
Hill Tribe Trek: Climbing up through banana plantations.
  We stop at a nice spot to look at the creek.  We continue on and come to a spot where we can go for a swim in a big waterfall.  We change into our swimsuits and go for a refreshing splash in the water.  It is cold but nice after hiking up the trail.  We head back out on the trail and up some more and finally  we get to the place we will be staying for the night.  It is a house that the guide company uses for the trekkers to sleep in. There is a villagers house right next to it where our guide cooks our meal.  There is a campfire between the two houses.  The house looks out over the valley we just climbed out of.  Pretty nicespot.  The villagers living next door have children and they come over and show us  some small textiles they are selling.
Hill Tribe Trek: A girl selling locacl crafts in the village.
  She is a cute little girl and she has put on a shirt that has a pocket to hold money and make change for her sales.  We see her later playing around the house after she has changed out of her work shirt.  Our guide cooks us a nice Thai dinner, a meat dish and a veggie dish with rice.  Of course every meal has rice.  After dinner we hang around the campfire and drink beers that the homeowner next door is selling.  Our guide plays guitar for a while and he sings some songs in Thai.  He is really good.  Thailand has been so hot so far but it has started to cool off quite a bit and it is nice to have the campfire.  Heading to bed to our thin matresses on the floor it is quite cold.  Not what I was expecting to have but for just this one night not too bad.

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Hang Dong:  Market place in the tw…
Hang Dong: Market place in the t…
Hang Dong:  Market place in the tw…
Hang Dong: Market place in the t…
Hill Tribe Trek:  Riding elephants…
Hill Tribe Trek: Riding elephant…
Hill Tribe Trek:  Riding elephants…
Hill Tribe Trek: Riding elephant…
Hill Tribe Trek:  Feeding elephant…
Hill Tribe Trek: Feeding elephan…
Hill Tribe Trek:  The elephants at…
Hill Tribe Trek: The elephants a…
Hill Tribe Trek:  A squat toilet. …
Hill Tribe Trek: A squat toilet.…
Hill Tribe Trek:  Climbing up thro…
Hill Tribe Trek: Climbing up thr…
Hill Tribe Trek: A girl selling lo…
Hill Tribe Trek: A girl selling l…
Hill Tribe Trek: The view from our…
Hill Tribe Trek: The view from ou…
Hill Tribe Trek:  Feeding elephant…
Hill Tribe Trek: Feeding elephan…
Hill Tribe Trek:  Looking across t…
Hill Tribe Trek: Looking across …
Hill Tribe Trek:  The stream along…
Hill Tribe Trek: The stream alon…
Hill Tribe Trek:  A waterfall to s…
Hill Tribe Trek: A waterfall to …
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes