Monday, May 25, 2009

Chiang Mai Jungle Trek

May 18th held much excitement for us temporary Thai folk. We participated in a jungle trek south of Chiang Mai which included elephant riding, visiting tribal villages, swimming in waterfalls, bamboo rafting, and eating authentic Thai food.

Our guides were a couple of goofs- one that laughed constantly (for no apparent reason) and the other that took pleasure out of playing pranks on us foreigners.

We started out the day riding elephants.

There were several banana stands along the way so we could purchase bananas to feed our perpetually hungry elephants.

The eager-to-eat elephants constantly swung their trunks up to request more bananas. 20 Baht (i.e., 60 cents) bought us a bunch of bananas which did not last long (despite our attempts to ration).

We rode our elephants through villages and rivers. Carlynne and Dan's elephant recently became a mother, and the adorable baby elephant strolled along with us.

By pet standards, the baby elephant was still huge, but by elephant standards, it was so mini and CUTE!

Because of the ever straying/spraying elephant trunks, we completed our journey covered in elephant snot. Yum.

Next up was the walk. We walked through fields and villages.

(Water buffalo!!)

(If you rubbed a leaf from this particular plant, it closed as demonstrated above.)

We were introduced to village people, and given a tour of a typical home.

(The mosquito net is covering the bed where the family sleeps.)

Next we walked to the waterfall where we swam (and did tricks).

The murky mystery water was refreshing and relaxing... although also somewhat disgusting. Later that evening, Dan and I were both sick for 48 hours, and we're still speculating whether unintentional ingestion of this nasty water was to blame.

After the waterfall swim, it was time to head to yet another local village to have a delicious Thai lunch!

(We were joined on our trek by 5 British folks)

After devouring the food (which also may or may not have contributed to Dan and my later illnesses), we hopped aboard our bamboo rafts! We were instructed to leave our cameras behind as they would no doubt get wet. The motto for this raft ride down the river was "no wet; no fun" (spoken in broken English like a true Thai guy). After our ride, I snuck away to snap a picture of the rafts, as well as some folks riding them. There were 4 people (including one guide) per raft.

I felt incredibly safe on the huge hunks of bamboo!

While I was out sneaking pictures of the rafts, Lowell had a little friend pay him a visit.

Lowell had no idea what was on him, but the rest of our crew enjoyed snapping photos while Lowell calmly endured the presence of the heinous spider. When I returned, they were eager to show me the spider lounging on Lowell's shoulder before flicking it away. Better that it happened to Lowell than me... I would NOT have been so calm. (I HATE spiders).

We hung out at the village briefly before gathering our things and heading back into Chiang Mai. One of my best/most prominent memories of Thailand occurred at this time. Our group (4 Canadians, 5 Brits, and our Thai guide) stood in a circle and laughed hysterically for seemingly no reason. Mr Dodee, our guide, had the most ridiculous/dorky laugh, and the more he laughed, the more we laughed (and he laughed for no reason at all). The more we would laugh, the more he would laugh, and everything escalated to an unreasonable amount of ridiculous laughter... about nothing. We were laughing about laughing... and it was FUNNY!

Not long after arriving at our guesthouse, Daniel and I succumbed to our illnesses, and we spent the next 2 days being coddled and taken care of by our spouses before our health returned and we flew to our next destination: Phuket!


Shelley said...

shelley's thoughts:
1) awesome adventure!
2) elephants are COOL..i want to ride one
3) baby elephants are BIG
4) spiders FREAK ME OUT!
5) hope you're feeling better from your sickness


shareen said...

I like Shelley's format:
1) oh so cute baby elephant!
2) I shudder at the thought of that spider...the one I adamantly smooshed today PALES in comparison...but I am not sorry I killed it.
3) those kids are ca-UUTE
4) I wish I could have heard the laugh, have you perfected the imitation yet? If no, get working
5) Miss you

Bloggy Mama said...

Boo, I was thinking about the thought format for this post even before I read those comments above. Well, I guess great minds think like... Here goes.
Elizabeth's thoughts:
1) Do you peel the bananas before feeding them to the elephants?
2) Totally cute baby?
3) How "just had a baby" was that mama elephant when she was required to carry passengers?
4) We are so lucky not to have to sleep with mosquito nets.
5)I love laughing because of laughing.
6) Sensitive plant!!! I learned about that plant in my seed plant class -coooooool!!

marcandorkylie said...

We saw that same plant in Kenya - very cool! Also I hate mosquito nets, I hate the way they touch my skin, Marc always makes sure they touch my face when he puts them on the bed (ack!) and I hate all the dead bugs you usually see in them. Now I am done my rant. Enjoy Bottle Beach!!!

Lowell & Julie said...

Julie's thoughts:
1) I'm likin this list idea.
2) Oh-so-cute baby elephant was 3 months old (apparently old enough for Mama to start hauling hundreds of kilos at a time).
3) No need to peel bananas before feeding them to the elephants- they'll eat an entire unpeeled bunch at once... and they also eat whole melons.
4) I AM working on a laugh imitation.
5) Mosquito nets ARE gross, but mosquitos are grosser.
6) Spiders freak me out as well.
7) We miss you too.