Saturday June 23rd: today is not a good day to die neither

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 15 › view all entries
I thought I would be the first to slip outside at the crack of dawn, but apparently there were already more people out and about. A native boy was bathing his elephant in the river; Eat had prepared a huge kettle of that brownish river water, in which he was mixing this Nescafe stuff, while native ladies were preparing a monstrous amount of scrambled eggs and toast. Breakfast tasted good after such a night and we all cozily staid talking at the table afterwards...until one mad  chicken decided to spoil my fun by dropping its greenish waste on my hat! Aaaaahhhh... and off I go to get my first river bath of the day. Why me? I am definitely not the adventurous type... I will be so relieved when I will be safe and sound back into civilization.

In the last few hours, the villagers had been making and repairing a few long narrow bamaboo rafts. We needed to form groups of 5: three men and two women on each raft; so sadly Nancy, Ils and I all ended up on different rafts. In the beginning it seemed all rather easy;  you just have to find a stable standing position and use enough force on the stick to make the raft move forward. But that was calculated without the rapids! Always a lot of shouting: "left, no right, more force etc..." So far so good. Until we saw Ils' team's raft break into two at some powerful rapid. At that point the guide decided for us to go over land for a few metres and then he and the other natives would get the rafts accross. Not without trouble though, as we even saw these experienced rafters flip over. Oh my god, and my photo camera was in my backpack at that raft! Luckily I wrapped it in a towel in a waterproof bag....

From then onwards, the trip wasn't all that easy anymore; plenty of rapids and turns. Along the river, we passed plenty more villages, among some of the Karen-people with their extensive silver jewelery and black teeth. Unfortunately we didn't go as far north as to see those giraffe neck women... but even these local tribes were already quite a thrill to visit!.

Unfortunately, it started to rain, which made the river and hence the rapids all the more thrilling. Once again the jungle scenery on both sides of the river was amazing. It  felt more or less like I would imagine the Amazon... only much smaller scaled. Though after several hours of rafting, nearly everyone started to get tired of it. My arms were hurting from the force I needed to use on the bamboo stick and my thighs ached from the weird angle in which we had to place our legs in order to stay stable.

It was already past 2.00 PM when we finally reached the last village, where lunch was waiting for us, as well as the trucks to bring us back to the civilization of Chiang Mai. By the time we reached the hotel, I was more than desperate for a shower. I wonder if I have ever been this filthy in my entire life! It was nearly impossible to say what colour my clothes once had been, my hair was completely tangled, face and body covered with scratches, mud and dirt...and then that smell of river everywhere.

How do we take things for granted. How wonderful a shower feels after having been deprived from it for only two days. How wonderful a bed is with clean sheets; how wonderful a real room is and most of all, how splendid is a real toilet!!!  There is so much comfort in our life, which we take for granted... It only took me until now to see how good a life I have back home!

After the shower, I of course HAD to find a phone booth to reassure the 'rents in Belgium that I survived these 2 days... so many stories to tell, I just didn't know where to start. And then we could start to fully enjoy the remaining week of our Thailand vacation...
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Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes