Feels like it's been an eternity since I last updated this journal and it's only been about a week. We've been doing so much and just haven't stopped! We began our 15 day Tribal Thailand tour this time last week. We had to move from our nice hotel in Bangkok to a slightly less luxurious one just down the road so we could meet the rest of our tour group. There's 12 of us in total, 10 girls and 2 blokes. We've been quite lucky really because they're all really nice people and seems like most of us are all on this tour for the same reason.
The first stop off on the tour was Kanchanaburi where we stayed for a couple of nights in this riverside raft house. My god.......I have never stayed anyway quite like it in my life and probably never will again. The setting was gorgeous as we were situated right on the river but as for this raft house we were staying in, gorgeous is not a word I'd use to describe it. The rooms were basic to say the least, which is not a problem because I can handle that. The toilet in our room was a bit wrong though. The walls were made out of metal sheeting and the shower system was situated on the wall directly above the toilet with pretty much no space either side to stand so washing was pretty awkward. However, the worst part was that everytime a boat passed down the river the motion of the water would start rocking our hut back and forth. It was quite scary and I was so glad to leave and go on somewhere that had solid ground.
While we were in Kanchanaburi we visited the Erawan National Park to go and see these amazing waterfalls. This was excellent and was probably one of my favourite things so far. The setting was beautiful and we had to walk up about 7 tiers to get to the top. It took a good couple of hours to get up top but we celebrated with a swim under the waterfall once we were there. We also spotted some baby monkeys on our way up there which was so cool because they came really close up, but we made a swift escape after about 3 minutes because one of them was looking a bit too agressive for my liking!
The next day we took a ride around Kanchanaburi on the Samlor Tour. This took us to three different stops; The Jeath War Museum, The Kanchanaburi War Cemetary and The Bridge over the River Kwae. This was so interesting and it basically told you the story about the prisoners of war in WWII who were captured and forced in to labour by the Japanese so the Bridge over the River Kwae could be built. This bridge is now better known in Thailand as the Death Railway because so many people died building it. It was quite sad really but very interesting all the same.
Our next stop after Kanchanaburi was Ayuthaya. We didn't really stay here very long. It was literally just a 3 hour stop over before we caught the overnight train up to Chiang Mai. The overnight train was a pretty cool experience and it took us almost 14 hours in total to reach Chiang Mai. When we boarded the train the look on people's faces was hysterical! Although the seats looked fairly comfortable, the thought of having to sit on these for 14 hours was really quite hideous. So imagine our delight when we finally realised that we all had fold out beds to sleep on. We were pretty chuffed to be honest and most of us managed to get a good nights sleep.
After arriving in Chiang Mai we were taken to our next guest house which although wasn't the nicest place you've ever stayed, it was certainly a massive step up from the raft house so we were happy! Chiang Mai is quite a cool place. No where near as busy as Bangkok but quite nice and chilled with plenty to do. Since arriving here we managed to get in quite a bit of sightseeing and have been to see a few different temples. One afternoon a group of us decided to rent mopeds and have a ride about. Unfortunately we didn't get as far as renting them because a girl from our group was doing a test ride and fell right off one and scratched up the paint work. She wans't hurt but the owners weren't very happy after that little incident and needless to say they weren't too keen about renting out six bikes to us so that idea quickly died. Will probably save that one for Oz instead!
So that pretty much brings me up to last Friday when we began the long awaited three day trek. It all started off really well with an elephant ride round the hills. This was great fun as we got to feed them and everything but I couldn't help feeling sorry them. I don't think they get treated very well. Now before I go off on my little rant about this I must say that I did enjoy the trek and the cultural side of it was brilliant. It was a real eye opener and it was cool to see and experience a totally different way of life. However....................this trekking business was a completely different story. We only walked 25km over the full three days which really isn't any great distance, and in different circumstances I would've probably handled it much better. The heat was quite unbearable and I was wearing long trousers and t-shirts which didn't help me out. Before the trek started our tour guide warned us that a lot of the walking would be up hill, but we just didn't quite comprehend how steep these hills were going to be. The trekking downhill and on flat ground was fine and Id even go as far as saying I enjoyed that part, but walking up those hills just killed me. It was so hard and at one point I really didn't think I'd be able to carry on. Anyway we all did it in the end and felt quite good after.
The cleanliness thing was a bit of an issue. We obviously felt totally minging after each walk and as they don't have the use of showers up in the hills, getting washed involved the use of a stream. It was freezing but I found that whole experience quite funny really! The toilets left a lot to be desired, and as you can imagine, all they had were holes in the ground. It certainly wasn't fun at night when you couldn't see a bleedin' thing!!! We ended up doing toilet trips together in the end with each of us taking it turns to hold the torch.
The huts we stayed in were really cool but not remotely comfortable. They were simply made out of bamboo and it was pretty hard getting comfortable at night. It got pretty cold too!! I thought the bugs would have been a bigger issue that they were. There were plently of mosquitos but not many spiders to my sheer delight!! We got to meet plenty of the locals and one night a group of children from the village came to our hut and sang for us. In return we gave them presents that we'd brought along with us and sang a few nursery rhymes to them. It was pretty cool actually because the children seemed to really enjoy it.
The trek ended yesterday which we celebrated by going bamboo rafting. This was a great end to the last three days as everyone was so knackered and not in the best of moods but this quickly put everyone back in good spirits. It was a really hard three days and not something I'd do again in a hurry but definitely worthwhile. I woke up this morning in pure agony as every muscle in my body was aching. We all decided to treat ourselves to a full body oil massage which we went to this afternoon. I was unlucky I think because Alicia and Jill really enjoyed theirs but I got the b**** from hell!! I'm hurting more now than I did this morning which can't be good but hopefully I'll feel better for it in the morning.
Tomorrow we are leaving Chiang Mai and making our way onto Thanton before heading up to Chang Rai and visiting the Golden Triangle. Really looking forward to that so will update you all again soon once we're done there.
Hope everyone is well, take care X