heck . . . er, trek
hill tribe girl
from CHIANG MAI I didn't
find the day trips out of Chiang Mai satisfying at all. Elephant
rides were ten minutes in and out of the jungle. Village visit
went directly to hill tribe stalls with women selling souvenirs.
I heard the treks were good and I had to give them a try.
I knew exactly the kind of
trip I was in for when I saw the transportation. It was a mini-sized,
open air, truck. Rainy season had started and the thought of
slipping off the side of a mountain made it scary. I was very
glad to finally walk. That didn't last long. It was very slippery
going down the mountain. I wasn't the first to fall -- but I
fell best -- twice!
The village wasn't as remote
as hoped for. There were cars, motorcycles, tin roofs, and even a
satellite dish. But, hey, there was also ice cold Coke.
The hike on day two was eight
miles but, thankfully, most of it was flat. There were several
streams to cross. Each time I took off shoes and socks in an
effort to have dry feet. We reached the elephant camp none too
soon. I cleaned my shoes one more time and threw away another
pair of socks.
The elephant ride was vastly
different from the day trip experience. We crowded onto the
elephants with two people per wooden seat and one on the head.
I was on the head. It was very difficult to find a comfortable
position. We crossed by rice fields, along jungle trails, up
banks, through rivers, and into areas we never knew elephants could
go. My legs were really ready when the two hours ended.
I was ready to not hike, and
I sure didn't want to ride another elephant. But, my Buddha!
The canoe trip wasn't what I expected. The raft was 15 bamboo
poles tied together. When seven of us climbed aboard, most of
the raft went under water. I'd tried for two days to keep my
shoes dry but this time it was impossible. We stood, attempting
to balance, for four hours down river. At one point we very
nearly flipped over, but Lope's record of no spills somehow remained
in tact. He couldn't swim and on occasion said passengers had
fallen off. If they couldn't reach his bamboo pole, they would
have been out of luck.
The shoes had to go as soon
as I got back to Chiang Mai.