Blood, Sweat and Tears
Trip Start Dec 14, 2004
27Trip End May 25, 2005
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We set off on Thursday morning- a group of 7- including the three of us, Sian and Laura- two British girls traveling together, and our guides- Pat, and a man who chose to go by the name of Chicken. Odd, no? Apparently he thought we'd find it easier to pronounce than his Thai name, Bum.
We kicked off the trek by piling into the back of a pick up truck and driving a nauseating hour and a half into the hills. We hopped out in the middle of the jungle, wondering where the "path" was
After a lot of sweat, a little blood, and possibly a few tears, we reached our first night's accomodation-- a medium sized village of the Lahu tribe. We were ushered into a small bamboo hut where we spent the better part of the night. We slept on one end of the hut, and they cooked our food at the other end! We set up a table in the middle and had a delicious and plentiful dinner, surrounded by the village neighbors... this was certainly an interesting part of the first night. The Lahu people were just as interested in us as we were in them, as we spent more than a few awkward moments staring at each other and mumbling to the person next to us in our respective languages
The second day of our trek was equally challenging and beautiful as our first. We hiked all day until reaching a Karen village, where we would spend our second night. The Karen people were very sweet and friendly. Even though we were not able to communicate verbally with them, their faces showed genuine warmth and kindness. We had yet another poor night's sleep with even more pig grunting and squealing and rooster crowing than we could have imagined possible
We woke up on our third day and took a stroll around the village and watched a woman doing some beautiful weaving on her porch. Pat told us that she was making a purse, and we were excited to watch the beginning stages of the beautiful handmade items we see for sale wherever we go. Our hiking yesterday was flat and low key, as we weaved in and out of the Pai river and stopped for lunch. One of the men from the Karen village came with us for this part of the hike, and as we took a 5 minute break to chug some water, he chopped down a hearty and fresh piece of bamboo and began to chop it into pieces and carve. We asked Chicken what he was doing, and he told us he was making spoons. Sure enough, we sat down in the middle of the woods to a fried rice lunch served on a slice of bamboo, as a bowl, and ate it with newly carved bamboo spoons. Our Karen friend walked back to his village after lunch, but before he left he started talking to us in his native language (Karen). Although we had no idea what he was saying, he was pointing to our feet, and Jodie responded to him in English saying, "take our shoes off? well, maybe." It turned out he was telling us that he was returning to his village because he had hurt his foot...
while discussing our experiences over dinner last night, the three of us thought about how funny it is, that even though we had no way to verbally communicate to the people of the villages, we still spoke to each other in full sentences of our own languages, maybe just hoping that the other would understand a word or two...? All in all, our trek was a mentally and physically challenging experience for us, and we are grateful to have witnessed a day in the life of remote hill tribe villages
We're taking the day to hang out in the small, friendly town of Pai, and as the sun is relentless today, we cannot wait for it to set behind the mountains. On one last note... we're all sitting at this internet place right now in a bit of a disturbed state. Certainly, we're traveling the world and seeing new things and having exciting experiences-- but not everything can be glorious all the time, and we're bound to experience some of the cruelties of life, right? For instance, there are literally hundreds of thousands of stray dogs roaming around southeast asia. It is hard to see them, especially for three dog-lovers, but eventually they become part of the picture. Unfortunately, we witnessed an human act of violence against one of these dogs last night, and we all stood there completely horrified, not knowing what to do or say. (specifics aren't really necessary, it was incredibly disturbing.) when we asked the man why he did that, he said it was because the dog had bitten someone the night before, badly, and if they weren't mean to him, the dog would do it again. We retreated to our room, shaking and teary-eyed, sitting wide awake at 12:45am for a good two hours. How do we make any sense of this? Any words of wisdom or advice? We are still very affected and struggling to get our heads around this...
In 3 days we are going to India... we have many mixed feelings about what we are about to experience there, but we are excited to move on and know that the two and a half weeks we spend there will be valuable. If anyone has been to India, feel free to share some information with us.
rachel, allison, and jodie