Friday, January 20, 2006

Amazing Chiang Mai Trip Part IV: Water Rafting

After a good night at Pai Valley, it is time for another adventure: Water Rafting. We have our Western breakfast as usual (this time with Ham), and await the rest to assemble at La Teresa. The owner of La Teresa and Thai Adventure (the organiser) is Guy (a French), came and greet us together with the rest of the team.

We have Tyler and Jennifer (Canadian Couple), Axial (Guy’s son, mix of French and Thai) and Si Fan (Axial schoolmate, mix of Chinese and Italian). We got our safety briefing for about 30 minutes or more, and to pick the life jacket and helmet which fit our size. Thai Adventure is pretty experience as they have good equipment and planning. They have waterproof bags to store our luggage, as well as a waterproof barrel to store stuff for easy retrieval along the journey.

It took about an hour drive from Pai Valley to reach another beautiful valley filled with plantation and very scenic. We stop by a hanging bridge and river, where they unload the gear and start pumping up the rubber boat. Li Mun complains of uneasiness and uncomfort, thus decide to withdraw from the expedition at the last minute. They push the boats down a slope and into the water, and loaded it with our luggage and necessary equipment. We board the boat and start paddling. The water seems pretty shallow, but the weather is nice, and the scenery is superb. Basically there are only 3 instruction: GO, STOP, or GO GO GO (paddle faster). Luckily there are many stops in between.

The scenery along the way is simply amazing; with extremely green forest, bamboo forest and colourful stone wall. The stone walls are particularly interesting, with shades of colours ranging from white, red, black, brown, blue, purple and green. The most interesting stone wall comes in shades of blue, purple and green. Its seems like a reflection of water on the wall itself. We pass through numerous hills along the way, where each of them looks slightly different. The weather is just nice, and it feels so good just lying on the boat, watching the sky with trees passing by both sides. The journey is relaxing, as there isn’t much rapid (low season). We stop in between for lunch as well.

We stop by a place that had a mini waterfall by the side, where we saw Axial playing on a natural water slide. Tyler is the second one to try on it, followed by Tang and Me. Tang accidentally slides down on another side, luckily she is all right. We slides down a few times, and it is really fun. As we get ourselves wet, it certainly felt cold. Luckily the life jacket kinda help to keep warm.

After 3 hours plus of rafting, we finally reached the camp. The campsite is cooling, and we live in an open-air bamboo hut. The place is really nice, surrounded by forest with water stream. They even have a flushing toilet in the middle of jungle, amazing. I played rock stacking with Tang, where plates of rocks are stacked up nicely. We had chicken, vegetables and potato soup for dinner. The meal is delicious, especially the potato soup (thick and tasty). We sit around the campfire after dinner, together with the Canadian couple and Thai kids. Axial is quite an Introvert, as he doesn’t speak with stranger at all. Si Fan is quite a pleasant chap, almost like a big brother to Axial. Tyler is shy and playful, while Jennifer is playful. The night is cooling, but not as cold as the mountains. Luckily they prepare adequate sleeping bags, blankets and carpets for us. We set-up a mosquito net as well, though I didn’t notice any.

We wake up early the next morning, and had toast bread with eggs for breakfast. We played some stone sliding on water surface, but I am not very good at it. Tyler is good at it. We packed our stuffs and embraced ourselves for a long five hours journey of rafting. It is cold in the morning, and we end up starting a water war. It is FREAKING cold in the morning with our body wet. Luckily we stop by a hot spring to dip ourselves in, and it feels so good. With the cold weather out there, we wouldn’t feel like coming out from the warm water. We had our lunch there as well.

We meet with another rafting group along the way, where they caught some catfish and tortoise (water fish). We shared some BBQ fish and moonshine (rice alcohol, taste like Whisky). There is a mini waterfall along this part of the river, the biggest obstacle of this journey. It wasn’t quite challenging for us, but we saw a long bamboo raft successfully came down from it. We passed by a rock valley, and the view is magnificent. We got pretty tired when we reach downstream, as we have to raft more.

After 5 hours of rafting, out destination is a national park. Li Mun is there waiving to us, and taking pictures. We had a quick bath, and on our way to Mae Hong Son town. The driver drop us at the wrong place, thus we have to pay extra for a ride to our resort. The Golden Pai resort is a bit out of town, but it is a really nice and quiet place. It is situated within a village; thus we get to walk around. We bought some prawn cracker and pork skin, and they taste good. We had dinner at Golden Pai, eating green curry and Tom Yam. Every shake drink (coconut, mix fruit, pineapple, etc) taste good in Chiang Mai. We had a walk around the Resort, and they have very nice luxury room as well. Have a good night sleep, and tomorrow is our last adventurous day.

Coming next is Temple, Fish Cave and Amazing Waterfall.

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