Our first port of call in Thailand was Chiang Mai, in the north. Surrounded by jungle and mountains, this is the place to come to go trekking into the wilderness and to visit tribal villages.
On our first night we had a quick look around the city, before heading off on our 2 day hike. We had opted for the road less travelled, but hadn't realised it was going to be so hard core!! On the morning of the trek, we first visited an elephant camp where we saw some more baby elephants, this time of the Asian kind. They are actually much smaller than the African ones, but just as cute! One baby elephant escaped from his pen and ran wild though the cafe area, trying to steal food and drinks from the people. James made friends with him and the elephant wrapped his trunk round James!!! We went on a short elephant ride to the first village, where we had lunch.
After the first five minutes of trekking we realised this was not an easy hike and that it should come with a health warning. It was mountain jungle terrain, 30 odd degrees with 90% humidity and mostly up hill. Our guide had to hack his way through the bush with his machete to clear a path for us and even then it was a struggle! On the trail we stopped off at a Karen Hill Tribe village, home of the long neck women, who wear coils around their necks.
We were hiking for another few hours when we reached our overnight stop. We were staying in another village, this time a Lahu tribe. We were to sleep in a long room, with mattresses on the floor, with the other people from our group. The hut was built on stilts and underneath were a family of chickens! Whoever says cockerels only cock-a-doodle-do at sunrise, have never stayed here - they were at it from 4am!! Clearly, we didn't get much sleep that night!!!
In the morning, the clouds had cleared to give us fantastic views over the green mountains with small villages dotted here and there. We set off early to get to a jungle waterfall with a swimming hole at the bottom. The trek to the waterfall was maybe even harder than the day before. The small, narrow track was cluttered with fallen bamboo trees and one side was a 60ft drop!
The last part of the trek was fairly easy in comparison and took us down hill to the last stop, where we had lunch - fried rice again!! After lunch, we took a car (a small luxury after all the hiking!), down to the riverside to do some white water rafting. James and another man from the group were positioned at the front of the raft and had to be in charge of the serious paddling, as us girls hid in the back. In was actually not too bad or as scary as I had expected, although I did spend most of my time hanging on rather than paddling! We hit one fairly huge rapid, where the boat filled with water and we were charging backwards down the river! Fortunately, we all managed to stay in the boat.