Robbed!

Trip Start Oct 21, 2006
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Trip End Mar 21, 2008


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Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I don't think I've ever been so glad to get out of bed as I am when we rise at 7am. Our necks are sore from the lack of a pillow, our ribs are sore from lying on the hard wood and our feet are frozen through, even with socks on. But it's great. Buffalo Bill has a fire ready so we huddle around it, sipping on coffee and toasting our bread. Buffalo Bill has caught another rat that he roasts and munches on again. The weather is odd here - it goes from freezing cold (around 5 degrees Celsius) to beautiful and warm (mid-20s) in a matter of about 10 minutes as soon as the sun breaks through the trees.

Every hour or so on the walk, we stop for a break. At some of the stops there are chilly bins stocked with cold drinks where you help yourself and leave the money in a little jar. The guides refer to these places as '7-Elevens'.

Mid-afternoon, we are met at a small road by a pick-up truck and taken to our adventure for the day: bamboo rafting. The rafts are 10 metre long pieces of bamboo bound together by some kind of rope. They look like they could maybe fit about eight or nine people each but our small group size means that we have only three people per raft. Each raft has a 'driver' who stands up the front with a long pole for steering and I am entrusted with the rear steering job for our raft. The length of the raft makes it quite tricky to manoeuvre and a couple of times we narrowly avoid head-on collisions with large rocks. The river isn't too tricky (maybe a 1 or 2 for those familiar with rafting terminology) but maintaining your balance while standing on the raft does keep you on your toes, so to speak. Jane shares her raft with a Korean mother and son duo that just joined us this morning and the mother spends the whole ride singing beautiful Korean songs to entertain the others.

Following the one-hour drive back to Chiang Mai, that is the end of our hill tribe/jungle trek adventure. It is a very eye-opening and recommendable experience, we reckon. It doesn't feel too touristy, even though it is a popular fixture on the backpacker trail. The nature is beautiful and the tribes are still largely untouched by the conveniences and evils of western living. We enjoyed roughing it for a couple of nights but the thought of a hot shower and a soft bed is very, very appealing.

Just before sinking into our soft mattresses, however, we discover that we have been robbed. Before we left Canada, we put some emergency funds in various parts of our luggage for use in emergencies - e.g. if we were mugged and our wallets were taken. One of the stashes, in my backpack, had around US$1000 in cash, plus $400 in travellers cheques, and it ain't there any more. We reckon it was nicked during our overnight train ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Our luggage was near to us but not so near that we would hear someone quietly unzipping it during the night, which is probably what happened. Jane actually noticed in the morning when we woke up that the zippers of my bag were at the top, and I always keep them at the side, but we didn't think much of it at the time.

It's not the end of the world. We can get the travellers cheques replaced and at least our passports or credit cards weren't taken, and we weren't hurt at all. It's just annoying when we spend every day scrimping so that we can keep to our budget and make the most of our trip, and then $1000 disappears just like that.

The next day we are prepared for a bit of hassle in getting our travellers cheques replaced, as bureaucracy and language barriers often seem to make these things tricky. Phoning American Express does indeed prove very difficult because we can't get through on the number their website provides. Once we get through, the lady is quite helpful and, amazingly, our replacement cheques are ready for us to pick up. The whole exercise only takes about three hours.

This leaves us with most of the afternoon to kill in Chiang Mai, not exactly our favourite city.
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