Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hiking and Hilltribes in Northern Thailand - Day 2

The next morning we woke up early, around 5am. The guys wandered around the village taking pictures while I attempted to catch up on my writing. I wrote for about an hour, then wandered around the village myself before heading back to the hut to have a nap. We all fell back asleep from about 7:30 til 9am when we got up for breakfast.

The family had prepared us some breakfast consisting of toast (with an interesting wood-fire flavour) and butter and jam, hard boiled eggs and tea and/or instant coffee. Starving, we each ate at least 3 pieces of toast. While we ate we discussed the art of raising chickens, and how does one know who's chickens are who's, as we watched birds roaming about the dirt floor.

We got ourselves ready for our morning of hiking to the spot where we would hop on a bamboo raft to go down the Mekong river. I managed to fit my camera bag into my backpack (and swearing that on my next trip I wouldn't pack so much) and filled up my water bottle. My clothes had finally dried to a point that allowed me to put them back on without cringing at the feeling of dampness against my body. One more walk around town to snap some photos and we were off on the next leg of our journey.

The first leg of the hike was up. Up. UP. A lot of up. And my muscles still hurt from the day before. So I'll admit I was a little bit whiny. However, I was pretty happy when we started going down down down not long after that. The steepness of the hill wasn't overly enjoyable but it gave me a chance to use different muscles at least.

Eventually we came to a little rest spot near the water. We all had another can of beer Chang (probably not the best rehydration tactic, but sooo delicious) and sat with our feet in the water. As we sat there it started to rain, but none of us bothered to move... instead we just laid back on the rocks and let the rain fall on us and cool us off.

We hung out at the rest spot for about 20 min before getting back on our feet and making our way to the main road. At some point Tony Montana pulled out his cell phone, rattled off some words in Thai and next thing we knew there was a pickup truck waiting for us. We piled into the truck completely unsure of where we were going next.

The truck took us to a little roadside stop where we got out and were instructed to put our stuff down. Lunch was to be served before going on our bamboo raft trip. We had no idea what to expect in terms of food, but figured it would probably be delicious. And it was. Very simple fried noodles and veggies were presented to us and we devoured them.

As we ate our food we watched a pair of children come over and inspect the camera that Ren was making on his Go Pro video camera. They just kept staring into it and we all watched, amused and excited about what might come of it on the video.

When we were done eating we piled into the back of the truck again, this time joined by a few more people - a couple from Canada and a guy from France. They too were doing a trek and the bamboo raft ride. We drove to the raft take off spot, unloaded ourselves (leaving our gear in the car) and went down to the river. The rafts were waiting for us so we climbed aboard, myself at the front right behind the "driver", Ren in the middle and Eric in the back .

As we took off down the river all of a sudden the "driver" (gondolier? Raft man?) started laughing and pointing at my lap. I was a bit concerned what on earth he could be seeing that was causing him such enjoyment and looked down. There, on the raft was a black and brown frog, apparently coming along for the ride. Ever the animal lover, I picked him up and we became friends.  He couldn't have cared less that he was sitting on me, infact was completely content to just hang out on my knee or hand while we floated downstream.

The ride itself was awesome, very peaceful and giving us a completely different perspective of the area. We floated past a few "beach" spots - areas where the locals would come to to hang out by the water with their friends on bamboo platforms. We'd wave and they'd wave back . We went over a waterfall (thankfully not too big) and got wet. And it felt awesome.

When we reached the end of the ride we all climbed back up on shore and back to our truck. The driver took us back to Chiang Mai and dropped us off at the hostel. We said goodbye to the people we'd met and gathered our stuff from the locked room and headed off to shower before heading down to the Lost Hut for some well deserved beer Changs.

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