What a week! I cant actually believe that we've only been away a week, we've managed to fit in so much, its been non-stop and crazy crazy!! Arrived in Chiang Mai, off the overnight train and met two other lads from Lancaster, Stu and Gaz, who were getting picked up by the hostel and staying in the same place we were, The Holiday Inn. The hostel was lovely, even had a little pool in the back so we were straight in, bikini's on to catch a few rays, we were the whitest people in the village after all, looking every inch as if we'd walked off the plane a second ago, everyone is so brown over here!
Later we had a meeting with our group leader for the jungle trip (what were we letting ourselves in for?!) and met the rest of our group. The group leader was a Thai man called Jackie D and he was HILARIOUS! His favourite sayings, which soon became the sayings of the three day trip, were 'Oh la la my Budda'; 'No drink, no fun. No fun, no baby (!!) and 'same same but different', he was constantly making jokes and laughing - just the person you need to trek you into the Thai jungles!! We were really lucky to get a really good group of people to go with as well, it could have been a nightmare trip rather than the amazing experirence it was if the people were not as fun as they turned out to be. The rest of the group consisted of Stu and Gaz, the lads from earlier, another lad called Geoff from Oz and Richie, who was from Scotland but had been travelling Oz and New Zealand for the last year or so. As well as three girls there was also a German girl called Pia.
The trip started on Tuesday, had to be up and ready to leave at 9 a.m....The drive up to the jungle through the mountains and on winding roads reminded me off the scenes in Jurassic Park when they are driving around the island..thankfully no T-Rex's emerged!! The first thing we did was ride the elephants, unfortunately, Anne-Marie thought we were treking most of the jungle on the backs of the elephants and was not only gutted to hear that it was only for a mere hour but I think slightly scared when looking at how far we were going to walk! Me and Anne-Marie got on the back of one elephant, it was amazing! You could buy bananas at about three points of the journey to feed them (money making scam obviously but loads of fun!) and ours was so greedy, soon as he could smell them his trunk was rooting about looking for them! Claire-Lou was on another elephant with Rich and he had a mind of his own, he kept wandering into the trees and eating random plants, at one point he decided to prove how tough he was and broke half a tree off with his trunk, really funny! Classic line from Claire-Lou to Rich 'Do we have to peel the banana's for them?'!! I think their elephant also kept showering them with its trunk, nice! Later on in the trek a baby elephant turned up with its mother and kept running around from elephant to elephant playing, it was the cutest thing I've ever seen (see pics!!)...it also loved the bananas and kept tickling us with his trunk trying to get in on some of the banana action, obviously we fell for it everytime!
After we got off the elephants we went down to have lunch at a cafe before you get to the jungle which was lovely, lots of noodles and fruit to get the energy up! Then the trek started, definitely how it meant to go on, with a almost vertical hill in the roasting sun!! By the time we got to the top (bearing in mind we had on backpacks as well) I was dying and wondering what on earth we (me never having even been camping before!) got ourselves into! We treked for about 2 hours through the jungle which was beautiful if not hard work to walk in then came to the first of many waterfalls. It was amazing and we all quickly stripped off to our swimsuits and jumped in, one of our friends has got more photos which we'll try and get up on here.
After the waterfall, which completely knackered us out, we had to walk another hour or so (and completely uphill which killed me and Anne-Marie!) to our first home for the night. We were staying with one of the mountain tribes who live in the middle of the jungle, they put up tourists in a bamboo hut and in return get money from the government and the businesses to help fund their income. The tribe, made up of it seemed one big family (there are more tribes living around their area) lived virtuatlly from the earth but with a solar panel so that they had some minimum eletricity but were about 3 hours walk from the nearest bit of civilisation. They had pigs, cows and lots of chickens around their land which they used for food and made camp fires to cook their food on - a far cry from what we are normally used to. It amazed us all that people do live like that and live well and happy, shows how used to material things we all are I suppose. That night we ate rice and thai curry and later made a campfire. Jackie had a guitar and so we had some beers (that you can buy off the tribe to add to their income) and sang a few songs etc, all very camp-fire-tastic!! The toilet was a hut further up from our hut, later on when it got dark and it gets so pitch black up there, the head torch came in so so handy, we called it the Disco Torch, god knows what we would have done without it, I did not fancy going to the toilet in the dark, not with all the bugs and spiders around that place!!
We got up early in the morning, its amazing how noisy the jungle actually is, I cant even describe the sound but its really loud! After breakfast cooked over the campfire we moved on, treking for a few hours (so much hard work, I was a sweaty mess!) and came to another waterfall where we could have a wash and attempt to wash our hair etc - who would ever have thought WE off all people would be grateful for a wash in a waterfall and lake?!! Although we didnt totally rough it, the lads in the group took the micky constantly that our make-up bags came out in the morning and after the waterfall - give us a small break! After a brief spell of monsoon style rain (the waterproof poncho came out! Sexy!) we treked to our next home for the night!
Wednesday night was the funniest night we've had on the trip so far, we were staying in another bamboo hut with some family of Jackie's, Sam-Pong his couisen was hilarious and made us all very welcome. Much of the same occured, lovely food cooked by the tribe, singsong around a campfire then a drinking game, 007-Bang!, which we'll teach you all when we get home which resulted in us all being covered in face paint (see photos again!!). God knows what time we stumbled to bed (mattress on floor of bamboo hut, back is killing me still!!) but I felt all the beers in the morning! The worse thing about this place was the toilet was in a little hut again but was also home to the biggest spiders I think I've ever seen, I was petrified!
The last day, Thursday, we all went bamboo rafting (after yet more treking through the hardest part of the jungle, if this was in England there would be lots of disclaimers etc, crazy that we were allowed to do it without training!). For some reason the Thai man who was meant to be steering our bamboo raft decided to bully me for the whole time! He soaked me through smacking the water with his stick, kept tipping the raft to the side so I fell off into the murky river, at one point decided to do it on when there were strong currents and I fell off down the current and I'm sure, nearly drowned (the girls say I'm being dramatic but I'm not!!), everyone else was just about dry by the end of the trip and I could wring out water from my shorts and absolutely stunk of river!! Lovely! That was just about the end of our jungle trip and was for sure the hardest thing I've ever done, we can take anything on board now we've survived the jungle!!
More to add later but internet money is running out!!!!