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May 24, 2006

Back from the Wilderness

So we're back from the Woods, overall the trek was hillarious.

Certaily wasn't amazonian bush-whacking through unchartered jungle, but equally we weren't walking along National Trust footpaths. We walked for about 3-4 hours and covered about 6km a day, so it was pretty relaxed. At points we were fording rivers knee deep or wobbling across single log bridges over small rivers. :o)

So it started on Monday, having met our fellow travellers in the head office we all bundled into the back of two 4x4s and drove for nearly an hour out of the city into the hills to the Elephant Camp. We were treated to a baby Elephant doing some tricks before being dispatched in pairs/threes to be taken on an Elephant ride through the Jungle. The ride was pretty uncomfortable but was certainly amusing as we were thrown about in our rain soaked seats trying to hang on while wearing our high class plastic ponchos.
My Elephant was called 'Muddah' and pulled off some pretty impressive moves up and down the various muddy/slimy slopes.

After that it was off for lunch and then onto the trail to begin the trek. Guiding us on our adventure was Nui, Eddy and Rainbow (who seemed to tkae too much care over his haircut to be a treking guide but nevermind).
The walking was broken up with stops at various waterfalls along the way - some of which we swam in. In the afternoon the rains came but we continued to truge uphill in torrential downpour and hill fog. We eventually got to our hill village and our hut which was to be our accomdation for the night.

Day two dawned overcast and wet and for some slightly hungover due to the massive amount of beer that was drunk. More walking lead to another waterfall and more swimming. Afterwards the merry band of trekkers continued winding their way through the various paddy fields and jungle which surrounds Chiang Mai. Lunch was had at a village on top of a hill, we arrived just as the clouds broke and had a great view over the various valleys beyond. The weather broke again in the afternoon so it was another long 2 hours truding in more torrential rain to our 2nd mountain village and another dry nights sleep (aided by more beer and more awesome food cooked for us by our guides)

A breakfast of pancakes greeted us the next morning so recharged by that we headed on to the bamboo rafting camp. Our raft made from 8 bamboo poles lashed together and was steered from the front by a local guy with a bamboo pole - he basically punted the raft along. 3 people would sit down in the middle then 1 person would be at the back with another pole to (try) and help the guy at the front steer. I ended up being the guy at the back so spent the 30 odd minutes ducking low hanging trees and trying my best to push/turn the raft away from the worst the rain swollen river had to offer. It wasn't quite Class 5 white water but it was certainly alot worse than the Thames with various fast tight turns and rapids to keep things interesting.

Afterwards we dried off and jumped back into a 4x4 for the drive back to Chiang Mai. That evening (last night) we all went our for a meal at a local restaurant and some more beers afterwards. We eventually got back to our hostel at 3am and crashed into bed.

We had a brief look around the Night Market so tonight we're going to go back and try and grab ourselves some bargins...

Tomorrow we leave Chiang Mai and fly south to Krabi to (hopfully) get some sun, sand and snorkelling done (and maybe some climbing) ;o)

I may get some photos up on the website soon :o)

Posted by edwardnorthridge at May 24, 2006 10:39 PM