Very, Very busy over the past 5 days, its been non-stop! Tuesday night (07.11.06) was our last night in Kanchanaburi so me, lin and lich went for a few drinks.
Wednesday morning (08.11.06) we checked out of the Raft House place and got a truck thing for 2 hours to the bus station, there we got on another bus for another 2 hours (this truck randomly stopped for petrol on the way...) and we arrived in Ayuthaya. We had about 2 and a half hours to kill here before we went to the train station to catch the over night train to Chang Mai. We eventually got on the Train and had a 14 hour ride ahead of us....this was an experience and a half let me tell you!!! Ive never known anything like it! You could smoke on the trains, but only near the open doors (this was a speeding train?!) Health and Safety back home would have a field day!! The first few hours on the train were ok, we just sat reading our books, chatting and eating rubbish really, as it got darker outside we noticed there were millions of bugs coming in through the open windows so we decided the best way to forget about all that was to sleep so.....the chairs turned into beds, one on the bottom and one on the top, like bunk beds (takes me back!). It was surprisingly comfortable with blankets and pillows provided and proper linen sheets, id rather spend 14 hours ont hat train than a plane anyday!!
Slept pretty much the whole way until we arrived in Chang Mai at about 6.30am on 09.11.06. and we went straight to the Rama Guesthouse, checked in, had a shower and headed out for the day!
First stop of the day was the Doi Suthep Temple, we climbed the 306 steps to the top (not that i was counting!) and had a look around, mostly Buddha's up there but im learning there's alot of these everywhere in Thailand!
Next we visited the Wiang Kum Kam, which was basically an ancient town (or used to be) but was now only ruins. We had a horse and carrage around the 9 different sites, it was quite interesting...however......im not really a ruins sort of girl and one pile of bricks was pretty similar to the next :)
Before we went to the ruins we had originally planned to hire scooters and ride there ourselves, we all had a go up and down the road (thai roads are NOT normal....) just as a tester, however, Carly (one of the intrepid group) fell off hers and put everybody else off so that plan went out the window (i did feel for her though....i know that feeling!!) she was ok so no major drama, but we did stick to 4 wheels in the end!
Back from the ruins at the Rama Guesthouse we went to the Trekking hire shop in preperation for the next day when the trek began. We hired sleep mats, small backpacks and other bits and bobs. I didnt hire a sleeping bag (like everyone else) because id packed plenty of layers and already had my sleep sheet so thought id be fine.......famous last words! After this we went and had a look around the night bizare and then back to the guesthouse for some well earned rest!
Friday (10.11.06) we were up and on our way to begin a 3 day trek in the jungle. We stopped off at the market so the guides could buy supplies for breakfasts and lunches and they told us that when we got into one of the Hill Tribe villages the kids would come and sing for us so if we wanted to buy presents as a thank you we could. They said the village was very poor so the kids didnt really have toothbrush's, toothpaste, pens, pencils or books for school so this is mostly what we brought.
Next stop of the day was Elephant trekking, this was amazing, ive never been so close to an Elephant before....so cool!!! We did this for an hour or so then stopped (on what seemed like a road) for lunch which was cooked by the guides. Then the trekking began!!!!
3-4 hours of walking, pretty much all up hill (or mountain) very VERY hard! We each had to carry water (which was paid for in advance) 3 bottles on top of everything else we had to carry=very heavy and very hot! We eventually arrived at our first camp, a hut made of Bamboo and leaf's, a squat toilet (no there wasnt a flush option) i actually didnt mind any of this as it was quite cultural and part of it...what i did mind was freezing my a*se off (because i thought not hiring a sleeping bag was a good idea?!?) Not to mention that Bamboo is extreemly uncomfortable to sleep on! There was no running water in camp so washing ourselves was done in the stream/river just down the hill from camp...slightly cold...MUCH!
That night we sat in the guides hut, which was slightly more luxurious than ours as they had a fire burning in theirs (yeah.....in a bamboo hut made of leaf's ?!?!!?) In this hut we were introduced to the delights of Moonshine which to me tasted like meths but they loved it...it was basically like the Thai version of Sake. He sat for a few hours showing us tricks and what not and was actually alot of fun....a bit like camping really.
Saturday (11.11.06) our day started at 7am, breakfast (cooked again by the guides) was toast, jam, boiled eggs, pineapple and watermelon...delicious!! Off we set for another days trekking :( Today was only about 3 hours of walking and was a mixture of uphill and straight, still very hard in the heat and with our packs on. At one of the (few and far between) rest stops Bob (our guide) grabbed some Bamboo from one of the many trees and sat making us each a pair of chop sticks that we could use for dinner later...i was so impressed!
At about 1pm we arrived in the Hill Tribe Village where the Karen Tribe live, although this tribe can be found living all over Thailand the majority can be found in the mountainous areas. Another sleeping hut awaited us but this one was surprisngly nicer....a slightly more expensive brand of Bamboo maybe??!! We had a nap for about an hr before going to get washed up (again in a stream......could get used to this its quite refreshing) and we took a walk through the village and had a look at where the locals live.
The villagers were quite excited apparently because the Government had just recently provided them with solar power as at night the children used to try and read or write and as the light was so bad their eyes were becoming really baf so this was a bif luxury for them!.
There were also alot of pigs about.....apparently in this tribe the woman has to ask the man to marry her, if he accepts she must pay him 2 pigs!
After our walk around we went back to our huts and the leaders prepared dinner for the local children (which we had chipped in and paid for in advance) As dinner was nearly ready loads of kids started to turn up, plates in hand! We dished them up their dinner and they took this back to their houses (huts) while we then had our dinner....which was probably the nicest meal ive had here so far! They manage to make a proper nice dinner out of next to nothing!
After dinner all the kids came back and sat around singing songs for us, this was such an amazing experience. We sang songs back to them, we started with 'Ba Ba black sheep' and then decided 'Head, shoulders, knees and toes' would be a good song to sing as the kids could try and copy the actions.....much to our surprise they already knew the song and the actions!!!!
After the songs we brought out the presents we had brought the kids as a thank you and divided them up equally and handed them out.......they were so grateful!!We had a cup of tea to warm up and again went into "Bob's" hut and drank Moonshine (i thought it might help me sleep through another cold uncomfortable night?!?!?) he showed us some more tricks and even cracked our weary backs for us!!!