Chiang Mai – 3 day Jungle Trek
We left Bangkok from the train station, and got on the shanty train to Chiang Mai. Both of us were not impressed with the prospect of 12 hours with some stupid Yanks who would not shut the hell up, but when in Rome! Liam shot gunned the top bunk, thinking he was onto a winner, little did he know it was built for midgets, which lead to an unpleasant nights sleep for him, whilst Simon lay in his king size shanty bed.
The train arrived and we jumped in our favourite mode of transport, the infamous tuk-tuk. We arrived at our meeting place to find that the trek had been delayed by a day, so we decided to sample the delights of Chiang Mai. We happened to stumble across what can only be described as an absolutely awesome bargain – 1.2 quid for a whole garlic chicken, better than the stuff from Tesco! Liam was very happy; he had finally found some good chicken. This was followed by a traditional Thai massage, no not like the ones you get in Bangkok, this was very clean and very relaxing.
We met the group for our trek, which consisted of 11 people, us two, the 5 Asian brothers, 2 homo Germans, a lad called Alex from Bristol and a Puerto Rican mute called Arturo/Raul and we all went to see some Thai boxing hitching a lift with some kids on the back of their mopeds, they were not the safest! The boxing consisted of a mixture of 12 year old lads – all 5 stone of them – culminating with “blind” boxing and a female dog fight, which proved to be the best one of the night. A ladyboy parade finished the show, prancing around in carnival gear, as the foto shows !! The only down point of the night was some of the company surrounding us, where we witnessed a middle aged Brit man “buy” to rent boys for the night – a sight that made Liam try following him to the toilet to give him his view on the situation, only for the guy to continually go in the ladies !!! Disgusting.
We all met the next morning for the trek, where we got to meet our mental guide, he didn’t give us his real name, just that we should call him “crazy man”. So we all boarded the 50+ year old van for the cramped 3 hour journey into the Jungle. We arrived at our destination called Pai ( we think that was what it was called), to be harassed by the local kids selling us bracelets. We grabbed some dinner, which consisted of rice and um…….rice, and headed off on our first 2 hour trek through the jungle. Well it was more of a hot forest than a jungle, but we didn’t mind, jungle sounds cooler! Sweating and very smelly we arrived at the village we would spending the night. And what can be better than finishing a trek to find that you have got to play a football match against the locals….great! So we played football for a long time, but it was a great experience and helped break the ice with the locals, even if there were a few daring challenges put in.
Football was followed by the shower of death, as with it being a village in the middle of the jungle hot water is hard to come by. Dinner with more rice and a bit of Thai green curry was followed by a dance from the locals all in the tribes colours. Once the villagers dancing had stopped it was our turn, and we were split into groups according to our nationalities, luckily I was English and so were the 5 Asian blokes, unfortunately Liam was Welsh and he was the only Welsh person, just as he was about to start his rendition of the wheels on the bus Alex arrived from the toilet to assist and save Liam’s blushes….soooo lucky.
We hit the sack at a relatively early 11 o’clock and woke up feeling fresh for the next days trekking. This proved to be the hardest day of trekking, with 4 hours through mountainous terrain with temperatures hitting 30 degrees, leaving us all perspiring profusely and our clothes a nice shade of brown. Half way through the trek we arrived at a very small village next to a waterfall, after a quick dip we had lunch, except this time it was not rice, but noodle soup!!! Liam was not impressed. Here we met the little chap in the photo, who was more than willing to pose following Lim’s bribe of 5 baht. The next 2 hour trek proved the hardest for our geriatric crew, with the two snap happy gay Germans who would randomly decide to take photos when it was most inappropriate. Hamesh also deserves a mention purely for the fact he required a walking stick throughout and was undoubtedly the most nervous of hikers! Liam and me boarded the mother elephant, which we christened Bambi, via her head and sat rather precariously on a two man hard wooden bench. It was a very worthwhile experience and one we will never forget, but after an hour our asses were numb and we were quite happy to reach soft ground. Traveling about 10 feet high and being chauffeured by a large elephant with baby in tow was none the less something we would recommend to you all, and Liam has a nice video of the event with the bit when the kids started abusing the poor animal. We called the RSPCA don’t worry and they are currently investigating. The last hours trekking lead us our new abode, and a dinner of yes you guessed it…fricking rice. Now we know how they feel in the jungle in im a celebrity and why all Thai’s are so small. The night was finished gathered round a large open log fire, which kept spitting things out at us !!! A few burns later and it was time to retreat to our hard wooden beds yet again :o(
Breakfast of hard boiled eggs and toast was very welcome the following morning, where Liam decided to stack up on the calories after the miniscule dinner portions the previous day, so 8 pieces of toast later he was ready to start trekking again. A rather brief 1 hour trek led us to our destination with the home made rafts, made entirely of bamboo sticks and twine, accompanied with 2 oars made from bamboo also. It took Liam precisely 12 seconds before he was flat on his arse in the river, after rather unsuccessfully jumping a mini bridge – much to the amusement of all !!! It’s a shame we could not take cameras or camcorders on our adventure down the river (don’t know the name sorry mum!!), as this was undoubtedly the most fun of the 3 day trek due to continual banter between rafts and guides. Definitely a wise choice not to take cameras though considering the amount of time we spent in the water !!! Midway through the rafting “Beckham: decided to Thai box Liam on the raft, so in true British fashion he just ran and rugby tackled him into the river, not a wise move seeing as he was our guide for the next hour and a half !! Rather disappointingly we didn’t see too much wildlife and certainly not the monkeys or alligators at least, but only some rather larger than UK spiders in the trees.
Towards the end of the rafting 2 guides tried ganging up on Liam so it was time to open a can of whoop-ass on their asses and chuck them 1 by 1 into the river – his celebrations were short lived however, as precisely 5 minutes later we were both floating down the river after they’d untangled the twine on our raft leaving us with about 20 bamboo sticks sailing past us one by one !! This was without doubt the best experience of the whole rafting session however, purely because we could not stop ourselves laughing, and being laughed at by our fellow trekkers who sailed effortlessly past. God knows what animals we joined in the river, but what we didn’t know was probably best on this occasion.
After the customary dinner of fried rice and cucumber it was time to leave our newly adopted “home” and drive back to Chiang Mai where another 12 hours of train journey to Bangkak pursued. It was a shame Alex could not follow us on our tour of the islands we had planned as despite the fact he supported Bristol City, he was a neat guy !! haha.
With our Jungle trek out of the way, and our 12 hour train journey painfully endured, it was time to head to Kanchanaburi and the National Park – including the amazing Erawan waterfall you see in our fotos. We like to do our bit for eco-tourism you see !! Arriving a bit later than most people we were only able to scale the first 5 tiers of the 7 tier waterfall but we found a huge pool we could swim with the fish in (fish about 2feet long I swear). We even saw a kinda big lizard thingy about 4 foot long, pretty sure it wasn’t an alligator or crocodile, but it looked a bit like an iguana of some sort (Owen any ideas ?!?). We successfully scabbed a lift back with some Aussie guys and gals, as we had missed the last bus by some hour and a half – lucky to say the least !!
Booked into an idyllic hotel literally on the river for 3 pound a night each, showered then headed out for an awesome dinner at the hotel. Probably the best meal of the tour so far, even if they gave me chicken and not prawns !! Met up with the Aussies and watched Borat on big screen, where we literally pissed our selves for about 2 hours, downing several buckets of potent cocktails. The night was finished by us kicking some aussie ass at some connect 4 – if only this was a national sport and not friggin cricket (we are both deeply embarrassed by the shambles that’s currently going on there).
A full English breakfast the following morning and we were ready for our bus back to Bangkak and onto our next adventures …………….. Kho Phangan and islands !!!