Same Same, But Different
Trip Start Sep 03, 2004
44Trip End Dec 22, 2004
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We arrived at about 9 in the morning after a relatively comfortable night's sleep on our 13 hour night train from Bangkok. We'd been recommended a guest house and found it easily enough by tuk tuk, but it wasn't quite as nice as the brochure had shown, but still suited us fine. From the guest house we booked our trek, deciding only on the 2 day, 1 night option, still pained by the Inca Trail! Rather than the most common tour, south of Chiang Mai, we wanted to go to the North, right on the Myanmar (Burma) border because it was a less trodden trail, we'd be the only tourist group and we'd see more hilltribes, 5 to be exact.
We'd 2 days free before we started the trek, so we explored the Old City of Chiang Mai with its hundreds of temples and the old walls
In Chiang Mai we also experienced the crazy night markets, on both the nights we were there - we're addicted to the bartering! You start off "How much?" They maybe say "700 Baht". "What?", you say, "No, no, too dear" and wait
So, our third day in Chiang Mai was the beginning of our 2 day trek
When we got away, it was a 2 1/2 hour trek in the sweltering heat of the jungle to our night's accommodation. We'd to carry our bags too, so it made it even worse - sweaty backs wouldn't be in it! It was pretty steep at some stages, but really enjoyable, and it sort of cured our fear of trekking after the Inca Trail - it was nice to get a bit of exercise again! The scenery on the way was idyllic, so different to the rest of Thailand that we'd sen so far, lush and green with dark mountains in the background, clouded over at the top. The fields were endless and there were as many different shades of green as you could imagine. We stopped for a few rests and to take in the beauty, then arrived late afternoon at the village where we'd spend the night. It was part of the Daran tribe, refugees that had to flee Burma for protection. The Thai government allowed them to stay and they basically live off donations. For people who were refugees and had relatively nothing, they were as happy as any other people - what is it about the world? the village also had 2 families from another hilltribe. Again, it was the children who were the most welcoming, and the 4 or 5 little puppies running about loved us too :-). We played with the kids, oogled over the puppies and all got to know each other a bit better - 3 lovely American girls, an American couple, an Italian who owned an ice-cream shop, a German from Frankfurt, a French-Canadian and the pair of us - another great mix! After a delicious dinner cooked by our guide, there was a show put on by the children. They all dressed in traditional clothing and stood in a line around the fire singing and dancing. They were from about 5 to 18 and smiled the whole way through it. When they'd finished, they asked for a song from us, so after a buit of coaxing, Andy got up, stood by the fire, with his hand on his chest (only slightly tipsy) and sang the national anthem for them - good on him
Next day, after not a very good night's sleep (frogs, cockerels, motorbikes, elephants, dogs!!!) we enjoyed a nice breakfast and a not-so-pressurized look at this tribes wares, though we did feel obliged to buy a few bits and bobs - we're going home at Christmas, can't come home empty handed! First activity of the day was elephant trekking, again - we were so excited, but the trail they walked was ten times worse than what we'd done before - vertically up and down hill! After about 10 minutes, the guide from our elephant jumped off and we were left on the world's largest land animal alone! It was scary, because it started to wander a bit! Then the cheeky Nellie squirted us with its trunk a couple of times, and even peeed us a river as we were getting off ;-). Was great fun! Another 1 1/2 hour trek took us to lunch, then after lunch was bamboo river rafting - nice and relaxing before heading back on our 2 hour trip in the back of a pick up truck to Chiang Mai, to begin another long overnight journey - a 9 hour bus trip back to Bangkok.
We'll be in touch soon, because Angkor Wat is next on the agenda, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, no less!