Night Trains, Treking, Tribes and one hell of an experience
Ban Om Kon, Thailand
It's been nearly 2 weeks and we're up in Chiang Mai. Bangkok got better as the days went by and we began to embrace what it was all about. We visited some great temples and wondered the streets but were happy to leave when it came to getting the night train up to Chiang Mai.
The night train was great! We met a lone traveller called Fliss and two funny Australian guys who Liam formed a bromance with. The best thing about the train was the party carriage, a restaurant which turned into a bar at 9pm. The sleep wasnt the best but it was better than a plane so we put our heads down and got a few hours. Eventually we reached Chiang Mai and got picked up from the station and taken to our guest house. We'd booked onto a three day 2 night trek up in the Chiang Mai jungle so that evening treated ourselves to a one pound foot massage to prep our muscles.
Wow, what an amazing three days - living up to our blog title we got extremely cultured. I'll break it down...
Day one: We started on a hot 34 degree morning which at first wasnt too bad until the path went up hill. 30 minutes later all 12 trekkers were huffing and puffing thinking "What the hell am I doing?". At that point I think we both thought it was going to be three days of hell. Eventually though it levelled out and the sound of water filled out ears. We stopped off at a waterfall for lunch where we ate rice out of banana leaves and paddled our feet to cool down. After lunch came another gruelling 40 minute up hill trek to our first tribe, The Mohill Tribe, and our bed for the night. Now basic doesnt even cut it. There was no electricity, no hot water, nothing...just wooden huts, a few hens, some dogs, a campfire and some tables. This is how they lived and it was so amazing to see. At first we were all a bit unsure, but by the time evening came and we'd been fed it wasnt too bad. However, then came the night. Angry Liam has only made a few appearances since the start of this trip and all have been because of sleep. To start, the bed was a blanket lay out on wooden floors, a hard pillow and we were all together in one room so it wasnt exactly 5 star. We slept okay for the first hour but then the snoring from a french bloke called Olivier sleeping next to us came and I was awoken by a HUFF and PUFF and "OMG this is a JOKE...I cant sleep when people snore" from Liam. I attempted to explain that if he calmed down and ignored it he might get some sleep but it was no use because then the roosters started cookledoodledooing and the dogs began barking. We'd forgotton ear plug (error) so tried making ourselves some out of tissue, also useless, so in the end I turned around and covered his ears myself which was fine but I think I was pressing to hard as they went numb! All in all an awful nights sleep and by the look on the other trekkers faces that morning they felt the same....all except Olivier.
Day two: We woke up, or in most cases just got off the floor at 8:30 for breakfast and then it was onto the hardest trek of the trip, 3 hours of up hill, flat and steep down hil walking in the blazing heat. This part of the trek reminded us so much of the Hunger Games, our tour guide was finding us jungle fruit to eat along the way and even starting whistling to a mockingbird who'd repeat what he sang....MockingJay :). I was too tired to pretend to be Katniss but I'm not ashamed to say I wanted to play Hunger Games...I'm pretty sure Liam wanted to be Peeta. We eventually arrived at our 2nd tribe The Karen, the largest tribe in the hills. It was a lot further ahead than the Mohill Tribe as they had solar panels and hot water and more animals for trading. This tribe was actually the home of our tour guide so we went to see his house. After some lunch it was a down hill trek to the waterfall where we slept for the night, and also time for a freezing cold shower. It wasnt long before the sunset and the fire was lit, and not long after that till Liam and I went to sleep 8:30 to be exact....wild I know.
Day three: Our final day was the best yet! We took an easy trek for 40 minutes down to see the elephants where we got a hour to ride them around. It was amazing! We fed them along the way and watched the elephant we were riding's little baby follow us. From there we were off to the river for bamboo rafting. It was meant to be a relaxing trip but the man paddling ours kept crashing into rocks or getting us stuck so didnt have much time to lay back and chill. From there we headed back to the guesthouse. Our bed here isnt fantastic but it was like heaven that night!
The whole three days was incredible, and something I know we'll never experience again. A must do for anybody heading to Chiang Mai.
Since the trek we'd had a lazy day by the pool and tonight we'll be heading to Vientiane, the capital of Laos on the night bus...this should be interesting.
3 places down....10 more to go.