Riding Tigers: REPORT #10
|November 10, 1999, Chiang Mai, Thailand: Trekking in N. Thailand|
38.3 Bahts = 1 U.S.$
This is a very easy place to get stuck for a while, with $4.00 per night accommodation and plenty to amuse. I just had to have another high adventure trek into the 4th world, of the hill tribes. Made for a great comparison, the following are my suggested ramblings:
The quality of the trek is reflected in the guide, better guide equals better trek. This is a hard item to arrange but maybe if you get to speak with your guide before you book the trip, you have better chance of guide. Trek to the higher altitudes, which for me was around Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand highest mountain. The advantage of trekking to there altitudes include, nicer climate...not has hot...less mosquitoes...less wet and muddy, magnificent views.
These hill tribe villages are truly amazing, when you see these totally agricultural based communities, communally working to get the rice in...its a whole other way of life.
Try to break the barrier that exist between the guide and the "fallangs". Don't sit out and wait on the food to be brought forth, its coming in time. Wander into the kitchen, try out your rough Thai, its what you make of it...always tip your guides.
Never Pet a Thai dog, give all street dogs a wide berth.
Don't expect the same standard of cleanliness or safety. The bamboo rafting would be considered extremely dangerous by U.S. standards, as no life jackets are used and the river is littered with trees and other obstacles that act as strainers. The water is sometimes quite swift, solid class 2. Just to turn a 30 ft. long battle ship of a bamboo raft in those conditions invites problem.
The scourge of Asia is the plastic water bottle, discarded from the one in and endless number of bottles of water that is consumed daily in this environment. Be responsible with your bottles, make sure they get into a trash receptacle. If you think you can pick up other discarded bottles to tidy the place up a bit, your sadly disillusioned, too many.
Whenever you are given the opportunity to buy water while trekking, always buy more than you think necessary. Sometimes, you don't always have opportunity to bottled water to buy.
The standard fare of a tuk-tuk around the Thai prah gate area for a local trip around the moat area is 20 bahts if your good and 30 bahts if he is better. Try to avoid paying 30 bahts for short trips.
Had a great massage, from a small place just north of the Top North Guest House, listed in Lonely planet. It down a small alley, well marked, a house on stilts. The two hour "herbal" massage. This massage was given by two Thai women and included the application of hot compress, steamed in great smelling "medicinal herbs" it was excellent. Two hours, Two ladies,,,400 bahts...i tipped them each 100 bahts...so 12.50 U.S...Margaret had the same treatment.
Resisting the urge to buy but probably can't hold off much longer. Chang Mai is great place to buy cool stuff. The more you buy the shorter time you can travel. Looking for quality...clothes are a great buy but quality not always there, shop closely.
Were headed north to Tha Ton to pick up a boat to Chang Rai, The Tok River has a two night trip opportunity with a stay overnight in a tribal village. The boat is a slow boat made of bamboo but comes with cook and kitchen, not really for sure, sounds like African Queen stuff to me, but should be a good primer for our river trip down the Mekong River in Laos. These rivers flow through some magnificent valleys, with rice fields terraced everywhere. Now is harvest time so the rice is golden colored and quite beautiful.
Northern Thailand is really quite nice but stay out of Chang Mai as much as absolutely possible. Stay in the jungle man...
For Americans: Americans are typically stereotyped as loud. All stereotypes have some grains of truth. Its amazing how you can hear Americans all the way across the bar. Speaking softly and quietly will serve you better...This place is not America, your time spent comparing it to the way things are back home is wasted energy....
Loosen up, not all the Thais are out to rip you off, most of them aren't.
Well time to pick up the laundry. That's another wonderful thing about Asia, you can have your laundry done for a song. Like a full load of laundry, wash, dry and fold for maybe $1.50. and were talking clean clothes...stay tuned...
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