Trekking In Chang Mai
Chiang Mai Travel Blog› entry 56 of 117 › view all entries
April 30th, 2007 – by: dan2105
Our first day started with a fair bit of milling around. We visited a market where our two guides bought some supplies. After avoiding the usual forced sale of pointless items, we were on the road in a truck and heading to the Elephant Conservation Park - probably not as grand as you would imagine it - just a hut with some elephants floating around.
I was looking forward to the elephant trekking part, although I had pictured it as being an accompaniment to the walking. I mean, I thought we would have to 'board' an elephant who would help us overcome some difficult terrain or help us carry some heavy things. As it was, it was much as you would expect at a zoo - picked up, walked around in a circle and back again. I wasn't sure, also, about the way the elephants were 'disciplined.' I know their skin must be much thicker than ours and less sensitive, but I'm also sure getting smashed in the face with a metal bar or getting hit with a pickaxe might cause a few issues with some animal rights groups.
Once we finally started walking, I was ready for the elepant ride again. It was a blistering hot day and we were all soon dripping with sweat (apart from the guides, of course, who probably thought it was mild). After a few hours walk, we came to our first village, where we were to bed for the night. The tours pay the villages to let us stay and in one village we were even made lunch. This first village, belonging to the Meo tribe, I was expecting complete detachment from the outside world. I was to be surprised.
The second day was by far the most intensive. Luckily, though, it was also the coolest day. We even had a brief downpour of rain to temporarily wash away the sweat that constantly dripped off my face. The second village we visited was the Red Lahu tribe. Food was cooked inside our bamboo hut, which was actually a lot more comfortable than you might imagine. We ate very well over the three days, even getting cooked breakfasts in the morning and some fresh fruit from the villages. I was pleased that the village experience wasn't as I expected.
Our third day was, in contrast, the most relaxed. We did minimal walking - just as well, given the heat - and were picked up at our final village stop-off, the Akha village, by the truck that dropped us off and taken to where we would do white water rafting. I actually thought our drive there was scarier that the white water rafting. The water levels were low so it can only have been grade 1 or 2, where our trip in Bariloche, Argentina, was grade 4. It was actually so naff that it became quite funny when you compared it to rafting in Argentina. Instead of a fast, free-flowing ride that took you weaving through impossible corners and missing big rocks by millimetres, here we plodded along as the guide failed to inject any enthusiasm into it as we slowly hit every rock in the way like a pinball on a pinball table.
Then we even had the added bonus of a bamboo boat, which was about as white-knuckle as the rafting. We sat and rode this long bamboo structure down the ridder, relaxing and enjoying the scenery. It was made fun by the dogs that rode the raft and had a little soap opera on show for us, with wars against dogs on the river side, and then constantly stressing about the others falling in and losing each other in the water.
Then it was time to head back and get a decent shower and nurse our new blisters. We even went to have another fitting on our suits - and they look good! Hoorah!
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