Friday, January 06, 2006

Amazing Chiang Mai Trip Part III: Mountain Trekking (Down)

Besides the night being freaking cold, the morning is freaking cold as well. The guide and Gunmen try to make an in-house fire for us to keep warm and boil water (did I mentioned they did all their cooking inside the bamboo hut?). Somehow, it is refreshing to use the cold mountain water to wash my face in early morning. It just feels good, and very refreshing, and my face freezes right after that. They start up a campfire outside the bamboo hut, which is superb to keep warm (feel like roasting myself). They made us some nice toast bread as breakfast.

Keeping Warm in a Chilling Morning

Cool Mountain Water

Our Bamboo Hut

The Mountaintop Village

Villagers Hard at Work

We took a free Burmese cigarette from Gunmen, as it is quite tempting to try it; it is holiday, cold and the cigarette looks healthy. My first cigarette in life turns out to be a Burmese cigarette, muahahaha. It taste quite good actually, but I just dunno how to smoke properly (I have smoke coming out from my mouth and nose, yeah!). Trekking down from the mountains are much more relaxing, and a shorter distance as well. We pass through some sloops of paddy fields as it is still early and misty, and the view looks simply heavenly. I have “smoke” coming out from my entire body, as the body is warm and the surrounding temperature is cold and moisture.

Beautiful Little Wild Flowers

Misty Sunrise

Talking a Short Break on the way down

Nice Huh? Being surrounded by beautiful flower plants


We continue our journey and passed by more beautiful scenery, with the usual beautiful wild flower, abundance of spider webs, green bamboo jungle, amazing mountain and valley view. Some of the soil looks soft from the outside, but they are already hardened. After a few hours of trekking, we finally reached another native village. This village is more developed and larger, as compared with the one on mountaintop. We have some old ladies weaving threads, and a few locals trying to sell us some hand-made muffler, bag and even cloths. We did try some of their cloths, but the colour is a bit plain, but it does help to keep warn. We bought some mufflers (looks good and cheap, only 100 Baht) and a bag.

Spider Web

Ocean of Clouds

Thread Weaving

Do we look like locals?

Next stop, elephant ride. Out of no where came two elephants into the village. They look pretty old, and I was told they are 32 years old (one male one female, as the male show his large penis from time to time). The male elephant is pretty naughty and grumpy, and eat a lot as well. We would need to climb up to this little hut, step on the elephant and board the seats on their back. 2 person shares a big seat, while the driver sit on the elephant’s neck. Somehow the driver controlled the animals direction by flipping its ear, and he knocks on its head when the elephant is naughty (a bit cruel though, but I guess they have thick skin). Elephant ride is pretty scary at first, at it is pretty rocky and no safety belt is available on the seat. So, we need to hold on tightly to the seat. The ride is slow, but enjoyable. The ride lasts about an hour or more, from the village to river, crossing some jungle and finally reached the bamboo-rafting place. Perfect! The male elephant is a big eater, keep grabbing food along the way. And they shit as they walk, churning out many green blobs (vegetarian diet). While we were eating pineapple at the end of the ride, we could sense the male elephant is walking nearer and nearer to us. We feed the leftover pineapples to him, and he seems to really enjoy it. When there is no more pineapple, he slowly walks back to his own place. The female is more obedient and quiets thus no pineapple for her (poor thing!).

Rocky Elephant Ride


It is time for bamboo rafting, and it feels pretty shaky at first, but the ride is enjoyable there after. The air is cold, the sound of water is smoothing and the scenery is capturing. I put my feet into the cold water, and it feels really good. The raft can get jerky at certain part of the river; the front navigator did fall into the water upon some minor collision. But the water is pretty shallow (feet level), just make sure the electronics gadgets are protected. The ride is safe, simple and nice. The cool air and gentle breeze simply brush through my skin perfectly.

Tang having fun balancing on Bamboo Raft

We reached the end of ride probably after an hour of smooth ride, and walked to our transport. We drive to our next spot, a cave. We had quite a good lunch there as well, with nice beehoon (luckily it taste good, as somehow a lot of Thai noodle had un-tasty sweetness) and roasted chicken (confirm no bird flu). This is a unique cave, as it is a deep sea cave probably many millions years ago. Since the water level is high, thus we have to take a bamboo raft inside. Each group will have a lady with an oil lamp as source of light. They are many fishes in the cave’s water as well, and we managed to feed the hungry bunch with some fish food bought for 10 Baht per packet. The cave look pretty white to me under the lamp light, with lots of fossils and some magnificent cave stone and stalagmite and stalactite (from the ground to the top of the cave, probably 5 stories tall or more). The cave is so big as if some giant sharks or octopus make this their home many million years ago, with many funny animal look-alike shapes as well. The cave looks amazing and beautiful in a certain sense, quite an eye opener. The guide is especially excited over the cave, as he is after all a fossil fanatic.

Entrance to the Ocean Cave

We took about 1 hour plus drive back to Pai valley, and I was dead tired. It is good to be back to Pai, as it is really a very nice town. We had dinner at one of the local noodle stall, with Thai-style pancake (almost like Roti Canai/Prata) as side dish. We walked around Pai further this time, found a very nice bamboo chalet style resort across the river. There seems to be a tree house resort about 30 minutes drive away from Pai Valley, seems interesting. I treat the girls supper at one of the good-looking restaurant, too bad they doesn’t have much dessert offering. But the music is really nice though.

End of Journey

Supper with Smoothing Music

Yup, another great day. Tomorrow I shall go water rafting into the jungle to stay overnight there, cool!

PS: It is very tiring to write a trip diary, with at least 3 more days to write about.

Photo Link: Tang's DropShots Photo

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