Hillside tribes and near death experiences
Trip Start Jan 08, 2009
19Trip End Aug 08, 2009
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Where I stayed
Pai in the sky guest house
ALOT has happened in the past few days.
After the last blog entry Damian and I had an argument and decided it was best to part ways. Soon after this argument I went and knocked on Jacek's door. He told me that he was leaving the next morning to go on a jungle trek. I was very excited to hear this and even more excited to hear that there was still space for joiners. after I phoned the trekking company Jacek and I went to a little square and had a drink and a chat. After we had been sitting for about 10 minutes this VERY drunk Thai approached us and started to speak to us. He told us that he was a Thai boxer and was taking off his shirt to show us his muscles. He sang to us and danced and he even disappeared and retured with a pair of sandals for me. Which was particularly strange considering I had a pair on. When it was time to go get some sleep for our trek he gave me a very tight hug and asked me if I would come with him. I politely refused and we went back to the hostel.
The next morning our guides, Nuhn and Mit, arrived a little too promptly (half an hour early) to take us on our trek. Nuhn spoke very little English and Mit (who was GORGEOUS) spoke a little English and tried very hard. We met two other trekkers; Simon from England who lives in France and Stefan, a Swedish guy that was only with us for the first day.
Our first stop was a butterfly/orchid farm. the butterfly portion was fairly disappointing considering there were about 6 butterflies and they were mostly on the ceiling. We did manage to find a few more and took pictures with them on our fingers. We also were lucky enough to see a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, which was pretty cool. The orchids were also very beautiful.
The next stop was a refugee camp that was home to 5 tribes: The Karen, Pang, Big ear and Lahu tribes (all from the thai hills) and the Longnecks from Burma. This was a pretty unsettling part of the trip. The refugee camp was pretty much a zoo where the animals were people. Every tribe had a series of little kiosks where you could buy scarves, jewlery, bags, and other crafts. You could sometimes even watch them making these pieces of jewlery or weaving scraves.
The longnecks were particularly sad because from my understanding they are exiled from Burma because of their custom of the women wearing the neck lengthening necklaces which make them more appealing to the opposite sex. These people are not allowed to leave the camp and seem very sad. They politely agreed to pictures but were obviously uncomfortable with posing for them. The children couldn't even play and be kids without it becoming a photo opportunity (I'm guilty too :P). We left the refugee camp with knotted up guts and continued on for an elephant ride.
The elephants were very cute and friendly. Stefan and Simon rode on the older one who was quite calm and moved quickly and Jacek and I rode on a smaller one who was very cheeky and had crazy ADD. He was also very hungry and always asked for bananas. We rode for about an hour and then begun our trek.
The first trek was supposed to be about 3 hours all up hill but we managed to do it in about 2 walking very quickly. We were very tired when we arrived at the first village so we set up shop in somebody's house which they graciously allowed us to use and started to cook supper. We had little contact with the locals, they seemed to be afraid of us. One little boy came to see us while we were playing with a puppy. He then brought us to see newborn puppies that must not have been older than a week, but he got in trouble for that. after supper we sat around the campfire to stay warm and smoked and drank local whiskey.
The next morning we awoke to the sound of roosters crowing constantly which was incredibly annoying, had breakfast and continued our trekk to another village that we could see across the valley from the first village.
This was a hard trek, mostly uphill. we did stop at a waterfall though and even had some company.. when we were leaving the first village a spotty dog decided to follow us. He accompanied us all the way to the second village where we had lunch and then continued on (we lost the dog after we left). Again a very hard trek to the third village.
The third, and final village was very different from the first two. The people were much more welcoming and the children loved to play. We hadn't been there for half an hour when a little girl jumped into my lap and that broke the ice. After that all the children wanted to play and talk to us in their dialect. We took many pictures and ran around like fools :). One of the kids even took me by the hand to his family's hut while his mum washed him and his sisters up. We had another delicious dinner and sat around the fire again with Nuhn and Mit after dinner.
This morning was incredibly hard to sleep. I thought the roosters were loud in the first village but they were NOTHING compared to these roosters. It seemed as though they parked themselves right behind the wall from where we were sleeping just to annoy us. So we woke up (reluctantly), washed up, had breakfast and were on our way again.
The last trek was much easier as it was mostly downhill. We stopped at two waterfalls and ended the day with white water and bamboo rafting. White water rafting is very fun but very dangerous. The rapids we went down were grade 7-8 and were very intense. At one point our raft flipped over sending us all sprawling down the rapids. It was very scary for a little while but we were rescued by our guides and all was well.
after bamboo rafting we got in a pickup to go to Pai. Wev'e been here for a few hours but I can already see why people love it here. It's going to be an interesting night....