Sorry about the delay have been all over the place so here goes...
The third week was our trekking week in The Phutoei National Park. We said goodbye to our ecohouse, feeling like we'd only just got there, then piled all our bags on the bus with legs and feet all over the place as we had to pretty much sit on top of them on the 3 hour journey, we stopped off at Tesco's on the way for mosquito repellent supplies and a huge jar of mentos! - All the essentials.
Our first night was cheating, we were in a really posh hotel/golf resort in rural Thailand, it was pure luxury with swimming pools, a really relaxing Thai massage (unlike the first one with the brutal man) and a chilled out evening watching American Gangster with everyone in the bar area, getting us ready for the heavy week!
The next morning we said goodbye to the group who were going to do the teaching instead of the trek and left for the national park, it was quite a way- we got to the camp site up in the mountains and set up our tents- our trusty little houses for the week. Once we had got a little bit settled and sussed out the smelly grimy Asian toilet facilities, we went on a little walk up the road and saw a few camels and an ostrich next to a house, slightly different kind of pet! This was pretty much all we did today, it was only a little walk and were tucked in bed in the pitch black by about half past 8! For me and Abby to find that we didn't actually fit in our tent as we were too long! We attempted a diagonal formation but had to cope with bending our legs up, think you could see a good shape of our heads and feet protruding out from the tent from the outside! Was interesting!
The next day the trek started properly, we got on the back of a truck and hung on for our dear lives as we went up a practically vertical, bumpy dirt track getting covered in dust along the way so looked quite a state by the time we got off the truck. We got our day bags and started off pretty much sliding down the side of the jungle as it was so steep! It was amazing, the walk was about 3 hours but it was mostly flat apart from the start so it was so enjoyable just being surrounded by the huge trees and wildlife, we passed two ladies in the middle of nowhere collecting frogs to sell from the lake and an absolutely huuge tree that our guide started to swing on from the vines, it was really cool and a good start to the week. After the three hours and a bit of a hill we got to our base camp next to Angel Mountain where we'd be for 3 days. In the evening we made ourselves a campfire after collecting the wood and sat listening to Toby and our guide play the guitar, it felt very relaxed on top of a mountain in the jungle just chilling out.
The next day we had a lie in and didn't have to leave until 10, but a lie in on hard ground isn't much fun so we were eager to get going.In the morning we went to about 3 caves, the first was a squeeze to get into and then it opened out to quite a big one, it was really cool going in and a nice refreshing break from the heat outside. The second one had a Buddha statue inside it for the tribe's people to come and pay respect and the third one was the best one of all. We all went into the main bit - we all had our head torches on and someone looked at the wall to find a spider as big as Toby's hand just sitting there right at face level then we looked around and saw another one running on the wall next to us, quite an uncomfortable feeling in the pitch darkness! Then some went back out but we carried on around a corner, we weren't too sure what we were getting into though as the cave began to get smaller and smaller and we were army crawling through miniscule gaps! The quote of the day was from Mark saying "Dear god I do not bend that way" and me and Abby had two very embarrassing occasions of getting actually stuck!! The gap was tiny and we were trying to explain to our Thai Guide that English girls have bigger hips than Thai people! With a lot of bending in unnatural ways and some wriggling and pulling (and some very inappropriate timings of pictures being taken from the guys) we managed to squeeze our way through and then had to climb out the back up a bit which had looked like it had fallen through, it was amazing! Little bit scary if I had seen The Descent though, could imagine what it was like! It was very creepy down there but so much fun, we came out absolutely covered in dust and mud!
In the afternoon we walked from our base camp to The Tapernkeenoy Waterfall about 15 minutes away down the hill, it was amazing- we had a proper shower in there and it wasn't cold at all so we all stripped off and made the most of the clean water- had a proper Herbal Essence moment! It felt amazing surrounded by the trees and vines...and luckily no leeches!
We climbed Angel Mountain the next day which had been named "Death Mountain" by the guides and this was definitely the hardest day, this was the hill we could see behind our tents and it's just up straight through the jungle for about 1km of makeshift steps, it was very hot while doing it as well, I took my time on my own just plodding up and Abby and Toby had a march on being the first to the top, we could look down and see our little dots of tents and it was very satisfying. I avoided the "food poisoning in a bag" lunch that we had named, of cooled down and heated up rice and egg and then we made our way back down the way we'd came, doing some bum sliding on the way!
We cooled off in the waterfall again in the afternoon which was lovely, walked back in our bikinis to dry off much to the surprise of some of the field workers I think but we were just too hot! In the evening we had the Karen Hill Tribe people come to our camp which was really good, there were about 4 children dressed in white and pink robes, a baby and mother and then a "Granny and Grandpa", they were such lovely people, they cooked us tea- rice and papaya served in banana leaves and then did traditional performances, singing in Korean and dancing to bamboo beats etc. Me, Rebecca and Sarah joined in with the dancing in the end much to our amusement and it was a really good night- made a bit of a change to cards and guitars.
(However we got a bit worried when a group of about 20-30 of what I can only describe as Thai chavs rode up the hill on motorbikes and land rovers with their tops off, tattoos all over and boxers hanging over their trousers, we were all a bit anxious at what they were doing, particularly when Abby leant over to me and said Hannah he's got a gun! It turns out that they'd come up to camp next to us, but we were all a bit anxious, kept our valuables with us and our guide decided to give Toby a loaded shotgun! He only held it luckily but it was quite reassuring to know that he had one too!)
We all survived the night luckily and woke up with all our belongings, on Friday we packed up all our tents in gale force winds which was amusing, took about 3 of us lying on top of it to fold it away, I had started to move my bag to the cabin while Abby finished up inside our tent to find that the weight of my bag had been holding the tent down, so it completely tipped over with an Abby inside!! Was quite difficult to control the giggles while trying to tip her the right way up again!
We got a truck to Lumtaphern Dam where we were going to spend the day relaxing, it was a deserted village but happened to have a cabin on the Dam blasting out really modern Western music so we sat on the grass and used the rubber rings we had been given to have an afternoon on the water and reading on the grass, was really relaxing- and yes this was still our trekking week!
We had to sleep on a marble floor that night in our sleeping bags with a stray cat wandering in now and again, Abby really wanted to put our tent back up outside as it would have been far more comfy but we survived and got ourselves up early to put all our bones and muscles back in the right place!
This week was really really good, we had so much fun, but as you may have noticed I wouldn't really call it a trek, we worked out much to our shock that we had been expecting about 6-7 hours of trekking a day, and it turned out in the whole week we did 8 and a half, but never mind not quite hardcore but we saw so many amazing things and are off to see the other group to go to the island next week! Can't wait! x x