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February 07, 2004

Trekking from Chiang Mai

So I've been in Chiang Mai (Northern Thailand) for a little less than a week and I've had an amazing time. I joined a 3 day/ 2 night trek through the northern bamboo forests where I got to visit villages of the northern hill tribes (ethnically and culturally distinct minorities of Thailand), hike through the forests, swim under a waterfall, go bamboo rafting and ride an elephant (yes a real live elephant). (Libra House, the guest house where I'm staying here in Chiang Mai, really does have the best treks!)

And when they say trekking, they really weren't kidding. The first day, it was almost all entirely uphill (a really steep slope, like around a 30 degree angle)carrying a heavy backpack, in the hot burning sun. Not only that, but at some points, the path was only the width of maybe three of my feet, with a steep drop right next to you. Try finishing that and then attempting to cross a slippery, rickety looking bamboo bridge while telling yourself "bamboo is stronger than steel."

But I had a great, if not exhausting time. When you attempt something like that, it makes you realize that sitting at a desk hunched over a computer screen for two years is really not the best thing for your health.

So we hiked to a pool by a waterfall. It was damn cold, but I didn't think it was any colder than the Atlantic in the summer, and I am proud to say that I jumped in. As tough as Aussies are supposed to be, the two big Australian guys with us refused to jump in because it was so cold. (Of course I jumped back out a couple minutes later.) But after that hike the swim was positively refreshing.

Then we did a little more hiking and we stayed in a village peopled by the Lahou tribe. Yes there really were pigs, dogs, and chickens running around freely (I stayed away from the chickens, but these were some of the healthiest looking chickens I've ever seen).

The hut that we stayed in was much like their houses; made entirely of bamboo, raised on stilts. Well now that I think about it in first village, the house wasn't on stilts; there were sleeping platforms with mats that you slept on that raised you above the dirt ground. Up above, you had mosquito nets that you draped over your bed.

Not that I really had any problems with mosquitoes; it was too damn cold. The night was kind of like a cold October night in New York. But I was nice and cozy in my sleeping bag.

I was with a really great group of people, made up mostly of Brits with a couple of Scots, Aussies, New Zealanders and a Canadian. There were two other Americans on the trek besides me and we had a really good time. There were so many different English accents with different slang that it was definitely interesting trying to understand each other. Actually, I've been hanging out with so many Brits and Aussies that I think I've started to pick up the cadence of how they speak.

I think this entry is long enough. I'll have to post more about bamboo rafting and elephant riding later. Lets see if I can get some pictures from other people's digital cameras.

Posted by Ravensong on February 7, 2004 08:21 AM
Category: Thailand

Amilah! Readings this has been so exciting for me! I would sit in the office (IMing with Brooke of course and summarizing your entries) and just fantasize that you were not the only one who was free of Sidley. But as of Friday, I am free too!!!!! I said goodbye to Sidley after stealing enough post-it notes to last a short lifetime and frankly I felt it was my right. Well anyway, you seem to be having such an amazing and interesting time and I can't wait till you get back and I can hear your tales in person. Stay safe, have fun, and if you meet any cute ortho Jewish trekkers give them my number, k?

Posted by: Aliza on February 8, 2004 11:55 AM
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