Trekking in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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Mountain view

We were picked up from the guest house at 9 a.m and driven about an hour to a market to pick up some supplies for our trek, the market was a local food market selling fruits such as durian, rambutan, dragon fruit and figs as well as large chunks of meat such as monitor lizard...yum! Another stall was selling a selection of dried bugs which suprisingly didnt tempt our tastebuds so we stuck to some water and ice creams!

We reached the bottom of the mountain about and hour after leaving the market and the fun began. First on the itinary was an elephant trek. The elephant camp was down a little dirt track and was surrounded by paddy fields and fruit trees, we clambered up onto the elephant who dutifully led us around the same circuit it takes people around every day!  

 Our guide didn't tell us exactly how long the trek would last but informed us that it was all up hill which, as you can imagine I was thrilled about! It was a baking hot day and we began the climb, it was arduous to say the least! Once leaving the rice fields we entered some forest and slipped our way up the muddy track which led us up the side of a mountain.

Lahu village
On the way up we encountered a snake on the path eating a frog, sadly when Ben approached to get a picture it dropped the frog and slithered off so we saved a frog :) and starved a snake :s The path was cut into the side of a mountain leaving muddy banks. In these we saw lots of tarantula burrows and Ben managed to tease one out with a blade of grass which it lunged at. The trek lasted about 4 hours and took us through great scenery of the surrounding forest and other mountains, after about 3 hours of walking uphill, I thought I was going to die of exhaustion, either that or my back would break even more! But we reached a gap in the forest which had been cleared by the Lahu people who inhabit the mountain. This vast patch of forest which had been cleared had been turned into agricultural land which was now home to corn, potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, tarrow, coffee, papaya and oranges.
Rice paddies
The landscape was stunning but quite surreal as a vast patch of agriculture is not something you would usually expect to see at the top of a mountain. After walking through the agricultual land we were taken to a small bat cave, which Ben ventured into whilst I waited outside. The bat cave was home to about 50 large chattering bats.

After leaving the cave it was a final push for 15 minutes to the Lahu village where we would spend the night. On entering the village we were greeted by a cacophony of animal sounds. Snarling dogs, squeeling pigs, crowing cockerals, tweeting chicks and screaming children! The village was like a picture from a story book with its small bamboo huts on stilts under which the livestock sheltered from the blistering sun.

Singing Lahu kids
Our hut was in the center of the village and offered great views of the surroundings. We explored the village which was home to about 200 people, who were opium producers turned farmers by the government. The older people wore traditional clothes whilst the younger generations seemed to have abandoned this. We had dinner in one of the villagers houses, which was followed by a performance from the children of the village who sung us a couple of songs accompanied with some dancing. It was thoroughly entertaining especially as the youngest children had no clue what they were doing and stood clapping looking very confused!

We had an early night after an exhausting day and couldn't wait to collapse into bed and fall asleep. However, this sadly was not realised as after getting into bed the dogs started howling which was then followed by a chorus of cockerals which went on from about 1.30a.m until about 6.30 which was when the village woke up and the children started their antics!

After breakfast we started trekking back down the other side of the mountain which was thankfully all down hill. Although at first this appeared to be a blessing, it actually turned out to be quite scary as there had been alot of rain during the night so the steep muddy tracks had become pretty trecherous, on the way down both Ben and myself only managed to fall once and the trip down was much quicker than the trip up. We arrived at the river rafting camp after a couple of hours and were kitted out in life jackets and helmets. We got into the raft and began our decent down the muddy swollen river. There were about 3 patches of choppy white water on the river which provided a thrilling ride and lots of laughter as we were nearly catapaulted out of the boat. After some time, and the choppy water had passed we were transferred to bamboo rafts which gave a more tranquil journey. It truly was a thrilling couple of days of exploration and more fantastic scenery.

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Mountain view
Mountain view
Lahu village
Lahu village
Rice paddies
Rice paddies
Singing Lahu kids
Singing Lahu kids
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes