Friday, December 30, 2005

Amazing Chiang Mai Trip Part II: Mountain Trekking (Up)

After enjoying the superb scenery at Pai Valley and a cool night sleep at La Teresa, it is time for some adventure. Today we are going for mountain trekking, walking through one of the most beautiful mix deciduous forest in Northern Thailand (Mae Hong Sorn province).

We have our western breakfast around 8 plus in the morning, and it is cold and misty outside (about 10 plus degree Celsius). Booster the big Yellow Dog is hyperactive in the morning to have some fun with the girls. Our guide great us in good English of Thai standard (luckily), and I already have a good feeling of this adventure. We packed up our mini bags (enough cloth for one night and keep us warm, much less baggage compared to KK Trip) and ready to go.

We need to take about an hour drive up the mountain before we start to trek. The view along the journey is nice, with lots of greenery of trees and paddy fields. We can see beautiful valley and forests, quite a breath taker; and the air is cool as well. We stop by a flea market on the way, which is pretty busy with lots of goods on sales. Noticeable items include Burmese Cigarettes (looks more nature friendly), pink colour eggs, dried herbs and nice neck scarf. We stop by a small town as well, but most of the food sold there is cold. It had a very nice and unique inn there, surrounded with nice handy craft and plants.

We picked up our Porter (his name is Gunmen) on the way and began our journey uphill. The starting point is very near a river; thus we can see the beautiful stream and many cows. Most of the cows had a bell around their neck; thus you could hear the Dong Dong Dong sound from far away. After passing through the river, it is time to go uphill. On the hilltop is a bamboo jungle with lots of cow dunk. The place feels like the bamboo-fighting scene like Hidden Dragon and Crouching Tiger. We took a short rest and proceed with our journey. This trekking is not strenuous as we have plenty of pit stop in between served with good food. The porter carries a lot of water and food with him, including watermelon (freaking amazing!). They offer us Sticky Rice, Fried Potato and Watermelon as brunch and Friend Rice with Chicken as lunch at the riverside. Before we start eating, they always put a small portion of the food on a piece of leave as offering for the Mountain Spirit. We travel light, with plenty of good food and beautiful scenery, abundant of rest and trekking at a comfortable pace. This is almost like a 5 star luxury mountain trekking experience.

The mountain had a variety of tress, wild orchids and some beautiful wild little flower all around the place. The atmosphere is always cooling, with a comfortable level of sunshine from 11 A.M to 4 P.M. The view of a valley is simply amazing, feel like staying there when I retired. Perhaps build a wooden house with an orchard, installing a satellite for broadband and International TV subscription. Not to mentioned allow the children of the mountain tribes to get their hand on XBOX 360 and PS3. It would be like heaven on earth, muahahaha. The sky is clear and blue, with a nice ocean of white soft clouds below us.

We stop by another bamboo jungle, where the porter hand made us pair of chopstick and a teacup each (nicely made). Sometimes we have to cross a cold river stream, and it is absolutely freezing. Lee Mun fall down twice when stepping on the slippery rocks, as her shoes doesn’t have a good grip. We had our lunch near the river, which is a pretty nice and cooling spot. The sound of water surrounded by a cooling forest under a shade is simply amazing. We found some of the river rocks are natural crayon, thus start carving some fun motives on the stones. Our guide is really a very nice and caring person, who had a thing for fossil.

We reach the hill tribe village on top on the mountain (only one mountain away from Burma) after 5-6 hours of trekking. It consists of a few bamboo hut and long house, with lots of life stalk around (chickens, cows and pigs). There is a mama pig there with about a dozen of baby piggies following her around. Those pigs are really cute and funny. We would spend a night at the bamboo long house, where they pre-prepared a few sleeping bags, blankets and mosquitoes net for us. The mountaintop is cooling, but not windy. The bathroom and toilet is open air and natural. The bathroom consists of cool mountain water flowing down a pipe, while the toilet is among the flower bush. Don’t ask me how the native take their bath everyday, I have no idea.

We played with a few native children, which can be very cute at times. The natives cooked us a very nice dinner, with rice, chicken, vegetables and potato soup (this is really good). As soon as nighttime arrived, there seems to be nothing much to do except sleep. We have a brief chit chat outside, and star watching (the stars are simply amazing, I never saw so many of them in my entire life). Candle is used as the source of light, as it isn’t windy. I really enjoyed the atmosphere here; it is simply relaxing and nice. The middle of the night is freezing when we sleep, where mattress, sleeping bag, mattress and jacket seem so inferior compared to the cold temperature. I think it felt below 10 degree Celsius in the middle of the night. I have some problem sleeping, but it is not as bad as Laban Rata at KK.

Tomorrow we shall continue with more trekking, elephant riding and bamboo rafting.

Photo Link: Tang's DropShot 1, 2


Anonymous said...

Nice writeup....I will be heading for Chiang Mai but no time for Pai which I would love to include in my future trip. Enjoy yourself and nice pics too.

Anonymous said...

Dude, it's Mae Hong Son.