1 Feb 2550 - big walk towards Burma
Trip Start Jan 08, 2004
167Trip End Ongoing
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NO NOTES FOR THIS DAY SO RELYING ON MY POOR MEMORY
This day Dtuk had decided to take us on a big walk which would eventually take us to a Lahu village not far from the Burmese border. Dtuk and Jaree hadn't tried this walk before but had done parts of it. By walking we also solved the problem of how to transport the four of us, as we only had 1 bicycle and 1 motorbike available to us without hiring any extra. We started out from town on a pleasant morning and headed in the direction that we'd taken the previous day when going to Lod Cave. As we headed across the river for the first time the track petered out and we searched for the best way to go. Jim got a bit annoyed at this as Westerners tend to do nowadays. But it wasn't long before we found a decent track beside the road which we followed for a while before taking a break and then heading off again into the jungle
Dtuk and Jaree had been up this part of the track recently with some of the school kids and were shocked when we came to some recently cleared land. Pictures are attached. The land we found had been illegally cleared, not for timber as there was plenty of good timber and bamboo left lying around. Probably for farming. We took some pictures with the idea of reporting this to the officials as it was good forest that was cleared and also on the side of a hill and next to the river. So the effect is likely to be plenty of erosion and silting up of the river as well as, again cutting off a possible route that gibbons could have previously traveled on. Although Thailand has introduced some good laws to protect the environment, there still are plenty of problems with people encroaching on the protected land. Thai culture is a non confrontational one and one where people tend to let things be. So often the people encroaching on the land get away with it. Another problem is that some big business is quite aggressive when it comes to protecting their developments and so Thai environmentalists can be putting their life in danger by complaining about certain illegal clearings. Having a Westerner around to complain is quite handy, as they are safe and they may even cause quicker action to occur than a local complaint.
Anyway we kept following the river for a while often taking our shoes off and walking barefoot. Sometimes this is very comfortable, but other times I found it quite painful on my feet. Hmmm, makes me wonder what sort of pathetic animal we are becoming when we can't so easily be a part of nature without being protected from it - in this case by wearing shoes. As we reached the area where Dtuk had previously put a rope across the river to see if the gibbons would use it to cross, we discovered that it had been stolen. We had a break in that area, while Dtuk watered some plants he had planted beside the river.
We kept on going. The day by this stage was already turning into a long one and Jim was getting a bit tired. He was in a foreign land and wasn't sure when we would be stopping and so I suppose it is normal that he was starting to become a bit unhappy as he got tired.
We soon reached the Karen village anyway and as it was Karen New Year we stopped and had some drinks. Jim cheered up a bit, but the stop dragged on and night was getting closer. We still had a fair way to go. We left the Karen village and climbed a steep hill passing herds of buffalo on the way. Night fall came and we were still walking and the terrain was getting quite hilly. Jim by this stage was very tired indeed, as were all of us.
Eventually we arrived at a Lahu village. The last village in Thailand in this direction and I think about 6km from the Burmese border. The walk had been about 15 km and in retrospect it was too far, at least too far so early in Jim's stay. Jim was pretty buggered and after Dtuk arranged some accommodation for us and our host gave us some food to supplement what we had brought, we slept.
No reception out here and so no chance to check on Kanchana.