Trekking in Chang Mai
Chiang Mai Travel Blog› entry 3 of 46 › view all entries
I woke that morning as a man with a plan and made it to the reception of the Pagoda Inn hostel at 8, signing on to a tour leaving at 9. It was 1100 baht for a 3 day tour with a tour company called Buddy tours that would take us in to Inthanol National Park. I think tour company is a fairly broad term in Bangkok, but they were ok, the tour leader was a nice guy called Tan (though he did seem like he could beat us at any moment :) ) and his friendly helper Birdie.
One phrase you don't expect to hear when jumping on the back of a truck to begin a truck in Chang Mai is 'Didn't you go to Belconnen High School ?' Sure enough just 2 days in to my trip I ran in to someone I knew, Andrew Balaz and his girlfriend Jo had joined up too, it's a small world :) The rest of the tou group was a German called Ava, another German Anna, Swiss girl called Karen, another Swiss girl Layla, Aussie guy James, couple of Korean guys.
I got one dose of Songkran (Thai New years) water on the truckride out, even though it was technically over, westerners would have been soaked in days gone by. part of the festival tradition is to soak any farang that they see, well I'm not sure if it's tradition or just a prank that's blown way out of control, but it happens! Other people on the tour who had been in Bangkok said that it had reached the point where they couldn't even leave the hotel because they'd get soaked or covered in talcom poweder. Also if they did leave they had to be careful that any documents (eg passport) were in plastic, and they couldn't rely on taxis since they wouldn't pick them up for fear of soaking their seats.
The first stop of the tour was a little market to buy anything needed for the journey (toilet paper sprung to mind!). I wandered through the fragrant food stalls and saw the locals eating meals that smelled sooo good! I did an "I'll have what she's having" and ate this tremendous noodle and tomato looking thing, followed by some delicious fresh pineapple. Mmmmm...fresh pineapple.... It turned out the tour provided a little box lunch, but I didn't know that :) It was a little rice and cucumber combo which we ate overlooking a dam, nice and peaceful.
Second stop after about 2 hours drive was this little temple that was up a few stairs. The tour group all wandered up wondering what we were looking at, but the guides stayed near the truck playing cards so we have no idea!! I guess if you pay for a cheap tour, you get cheap guides :)
We began our trek, and Tan was entertaining enough, making toys from the leaves, blowing bubbles, and pointing out 'Thai elephants' (which were actually pigs :) funny man) The hike was not particularly difficult or spectacular, having read stories of groups being robbed it was intriguing to see a guy in grey with a big black 'stick' walking a few hundred metres away, but he went to his hut so all was well.
Once we reached the village, we barely saw the 'hilltribe' which was apparently from the Kalan-hue tribe in Burma. There wasn't much interaction with them, still I had kind of anticipated that when seeing the multitude of treks available from Chang Mai. I enjoyed the day, but I think those with higher expectations might not of.
Finished the day buying 45 baht ($2) beers from the 'hilltribe' fridge (with mobile phone charging on top), chatting to my Swiss friend Karen and playing guitar around the fire, taught our guide Birdie how to play Paul Kelly's 'To Her Door' so watch out for that on the Thailand charts.