Back from my time in the wilderness, been away for 3 days and had a really sweet time, it was a really awesome time and probably provided the most different culture and experiences I have so far had in such a short time.
We started off on the morning of day one in style, doing an elephant trek for around 1 hr through the jungle and a river about an hrs drive from chiang mai. Riding what feels surprisingly high on the cool lumbering creatures through the thai jungles with a group of mates, was great fun, kinda surreal and definatly one of those once in a lifetime style experiences. We then set off on our trek on foot which was harder work than by elephant in the heat and jungle humidity but more comfortable. The weather was mostly cloudy, hot and humid, with thunder often rolling in the background but we escaped without being rained on too much at all, though its rained a fair bit off and on since we got back. The food cooked by the guides and locals on the trek was also great as thai food always seems to be. We trekked for around 3-4 hrs each day through the jungle, every now and then being rewarded by views over the canopy or when passing through the tribes rice fields. We were guided by 3 great locals named ken, spiderman and sexy man (nicknames i believe) who were all great fun helping to keep our groups already excited and high spirit up with continued pranks or showing us puzzles/tricks. Having such a close group and fun guides was one of the things that made it such a fun trip the other was most definately staying with the hill tribes.
This has got to be the most interesting and culturally contrasting experience I've had so far, we stayed the first night in a small camp with a hill tribe family and the second in a hill tribe village. Both nights we "roughed it up" staying in a bamboo hut, washing and swimming in nearby rivers, which was actually really fun. Seeing the way they still lived and farmed with the same methods that would have been used for the last x centuries was great. Though the best part of the village stay was definately the kids, we had a tour of the village and soon ended up playing games of chase, cards, football and later an evening of singing with the kids. This was very amusing if you can imagine 30 kids and 10 adults in one hut sharing songs/ryhmes (including such classics as heads, shoulders, knees and toes, the haka and the macarena strange mix I know) all with actions and was a delight to see such excited and happy kids. Apparently they have visitors up to once a week which always provides excitement but according to our guide the kids don't normally get so involved as to play games with visitors so we must have been a friendly looking enough bunch. After finishing the trek and before hunting down a much needed shower we all did bamboo rafting down a river near where we did the elephant trek. This was a great laugh and involved a lot of splashing partly from the other rafts, partly from all the locals who were great to see playing in the river and a fair amount of falling in as we attempted to stay standing up on the raft for the longest whilst our raft in particular seemed doomed to tip from side to side and be sinking (we blamed graham because he's good to wind up).
We're now been back in chiang mai since yesterday, during the football I commited to winning as ever managed to sprain my ankle and had to walk the last day on it, whilst it hurt a fair bit its not too bad and I'm pretty sure its gradually going down, either way it's not going to stop me doing anything. Yesterday we went to and ate at stalls at another night market and today we went to one of my most bizarre experiences yet an elephant show. Can you picture elephants playing the harmonica, football, darts and painting pictures of flowers/trees well thats what we just saw, lots of laughs and amazed looks all round here.
I've got another week up north before returning back to bangkok, ending my 2 weeks of thai countryside and culture and starting on the chilling/diving on the islands down south. I have to say I'm currently loving the countryside and culture part with so much to see and learn even in the larger places we stay and a surprising lack of any real large numbers of tourists up here, apparently most people only really go down south to the islands which seems a real shame.
I'll try to post all the evidence that backs up my extravagant claims sometime when I get a chance soon but uploads are pretty damn slow here so they may have to wait till I return.
Thanks to everyone who's sending me messages every now and then, I really didn't expect you guys to still be reading any of my dribble (I know it's normally long winded enough in first person let alone on paper) anyways here's responses for the latest messages:
Matt: yeah, cool pic huh, can def add that to the funny collection, I've got a couple more cool ones like that from oz.
Jamie: Glad you liked your present, Thailand rules can see why you enjoyed Asia so much now. Catch you soon.
Katie: Thx for keeping on reading Glad your still jealous as it goes just a little way to counter my jealousy of shaun's love for you over me! Well done on getting the job that's great news (tho apparently not for the kids). xXx