HOT INFO On The Road

Margaret and Keel's Asian Adventure
Riding Tigers: REPORT #9
November 2, 1999, Chiang Mai, Thailand: Trekking in N. Thailand

38.3 Bahts = 1 U.S.$

Looked at the budget today, and based on the amount of money we have spent and the total time we have been out, we have averaged $22.50 per person per day, total. This includes souvenirs, guides, tips, massages (at least 7 or 8 of these) beer, the whole shooting match,,, not bad, particularly since we are at the high end of the low budget travel types...

Just got back from a trek into the north of Thailand. 3 days 2 nights with food and accommodation included plus elephant rides and bamboo rafts, total of 1600 Bahts...I will give you a short over view and maybe offer some advice.

We trekked with one of the dozens of places offering treks in Chang Mai. I used the service out of Darets Guesthouse and was quite pleased. I chose them because of the following reasons: they had answers to all of my questions. They provided sleeping bags while others only provide a blanket. They provide transport to and from the trek, some places make you take a bus. They have TAT registered guides. They have a locker and let you use your own pad lock to lock up your valuables when away. They told you exactly when the trip started and exactly when it ended. they told you exactly how many meals you would receive. the food was superior and more than you could eat. supper was rice with at least six or seven main dishes to go with the rice and always a vegetarian option. You paid for your drinks, bottled water, beer, soda etc. once you paid the fee there was no more request for money.

Trekking, particularly during this time of year is only for the adventurous and experienced. I have done a lot of trekking and other high adventure type of trips. this took the prize of the hardest. Trails were extremely slippery as the jungle is very wet. So if you don't like wet and muddy, don't go... I suspect it may be different in the dry season but it also very is always a trade off isn't it?

We trekked to hill tribe areas but don't expect to see dressed up costumed hill tribe people unless you go to a strictly tourist show. most of these people wore dirty old clothes and worked in the rice fields. We spent the first night as a group in a bamboo hut off the ground with pigs, dogs and chickens feeding under the floor throughout the night. We trekked hard the second day through a variety of habitats, awesome scenery, lush jungle, wet and muddy. At the end of a long day, we met elephants who were waiting to take us the last couple of hours along the trail to camp...While this may seem touristy, this was very cool and welcomed... The elephants are so cool and surefooted...a highlight of the trip...spent the night again , rats in the hut at night. At this point we were 2 km from the Burma border. At shortly after dark and huge barrage of artillery fire could be heard and seen across the mountains... The guide says "don't worry it is just fire works celebrating the birth of a child" well if you believe this your suspicion is that it was Thai forces doing a little night time practice and "show of force", currently tension is extreme between Burma and Thailand as a result of the embassy hostage situation that occurred in Bangkok. 46 border crossing have been closed and so now people must smuggle rice and consumer goods across, if they catch you, you die. Despite this excitement we did not feel threatened. The third day we did a short trek before boarding bamboo rafts to raft down the river. As I am a river rat this was not a problem as it was like steering a very long canoe, but was trouble for some. no life jackets and many strainers, only class 2 water. I found it very fun and a little easier way to travel. These rafts are perhaps 20 feet long and are just several logs of bamboo lashed together. All in all it was a great trip but not for the faint of heart. Opium is available along the way.

My advice is go prepared. Take long sleeve pants and shirts, first aid kit, extra socks. don't wear short short pants and bikini tops, This is the jungle man! we saw at least four snakes, one the green viper was in a tree as we rafted by, very deadly.

Also must note for my bird friends, the number of mist nets that I observed in each hill tribe village. As the guide said " if bird stop in net, he is to eat", like the bird would choose to stop in the net.
We are going to spend a couple of days here before heading north to catch a big raft for a couple of days of jungle rafting, can you say "African Queen man", to Chang Rai...we go to Laos soon...cant wait, they say Laos is like Thailand was thirty years ago...we will see...

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