Had one of the most exciting and gruelling weeks in ages. We went white water rafting on Monday which was absolutely amazing. The rapids weren't that hairy (apparently they are crazier in the rainy season) but we did get our fair share of exciting moments. At one point we came to a rapids section and got beached on a rock. Water was pouring in the boat and soaking us and we all had to sit on one corner to free ourselves. What then ensued was a mad scramble as we attempted to get back into position for a pretty scary drop! Definitely want to do it again, maybe in New Zealand.
Tuesday was when the real fun began though as we went on a three day hilltribe trek. En route we visited a cave where there were literally hundreds of bats flying round and one of our party got s*** on his head! Once we arrived in Inthanon National Park (a private area only used by the guesthouse we are at) we trekked for a couple of hours to a hilltribe village where we would be spending the night. The locals came up to our camp to sell us there wears and then we went to visit a house in the village and drank bamboo tea and questioned our guide and our host about Karen tribe culture.
The second day we did a great deal of trekking and a superb elephant trek with our very temperamental guide Dumbo-dore! The stupid thing kept getting clay in its trunk then spraying it on us along with a great deal of elephant snot and goodness only knows what else! When we arrived at our accommodation for the second day we went to have a look around and before we knew it a New Zealander named Matt and myself had been invited to play football with some local kids on the other side of a river which could only be reached by a less than sturdy bamboo bridge. Before we knew it Pi, Sam and J had caught the scent and we had a full scale match on one of the smallest pitches you can imagine, beating the last defender then getting tackled by a tree was surprisingly common! After that we had some tea at the hut then we all gathered round the fire and drank rice whiskey and chang beer and sang songs. Our charismatic guide Chai played the guitar and introduced us to some new lyrics to existing songs! The Beatles 'Let It Be' became 'Ladyboy' and 'No Woman, No Cry' became 'No Ladyboy Please'! Chai also introduced us to the elephant song:
Elephant, Elephant, Elephant,
Have you ever seen Elephant,
With big boll*#!s and poo,
And big ears, long, long tail.
A total tune as you can imagine! Another highlight was a performance of the haka by Matt, pretty impressive!
On the final day we trekked for an hour to a river where we went bamboo rafting. We then walked further before being picked up and taken to see the highest temple in Thailand, I'm pretty templed out right now but it was impressive all the same! Finally, a whistle-stop visit to a waterfall and then back to Chiang Mai.
You would think this is where the adventure ends but you would be very much mistaken. After we got back and showered and, in my case, got rid of the beginnings of a beard (I looked a bit like a hobo) we all met for dinner at a Thai buffet. We then headed on to a bar with live music and everyone was there. Chai enjoyed the monkeys doing a bit of chicken hunting very much! Oh, and I forgot to mention that Chai had earlier put on a very appetizing jungle spread which consisted of glow worms, maggots, crickets and cockroaches! Having already experienced the delights of a maggot, I then tried a glow worm and a cricket, OK and disgusting respectively!! Couldn't bring myself to try the cockroach. The crazy Pole Aric gave it a go and hard as he tried he could not bite off a piece because it was so tough!
Plans to have a relatively quiet day yesterday went to pot as we had a trip to another temple in the hills then in the evening we went to a place called the River View Bar, a Thai jazz band playing tunes from Maroon 5 to Louis Armstrong anyone?! Then it was off to see some Thai boxing, I found it strange to see people enjoying violence so much but I was very impressed with the fighters, they showed great resilience and respect for one another. Definitely a worthwhile experience although I don't think I'll be going back. All that was left was to enjoy Egypt's win with Pi then home for a 'relatively' early night!
Off to Pai later today to chill out for a few days before Laos. Apparently it is a hippy den so I should fit in no probs!
Take care of yourselves,