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An elephant never forgets

THAILAND | Wednesday, 1 October 2008 | Views [526]

my elephant chariot leaving for lunch after our walk

my elephant chariot leaving for lunch after our walk

arrived in Chiang Mai on Tuesday morning after a pretty uneventful overnight trainride. At the train station I headed straight for the bathroom as to avoid the pescy tuk-tuk and taxi drivers so I could get my bearings. I came out and haggled with one for a 30 baht ride to my hostel. The hostel was quiet and perfect. Clean, nice hosts, newer and away from the other backpackers. I quickly did some research on the interent for a trekking tour and went to explore the town. I booked a tour in town for 2 days/1 night trekking, rafting and elephant riding. I also booked my border crossing via the Mekong River at the same time, a 3 day/2 night bus/boat ride (more on that later).

I was picked up the next morning for my trek with 10 other people in the truck. It was a mix of european and one american besides me. We drove for about an hour before departing on a short walk to a waterfall for a little swim and used the rock waterslide. Then we hiked straight up a dirt road into the a village of Red clothed people (that is what they are called). It rained almost the entire walk up so by the time we got to the village we were wet and sweaty. We found our hut, set up for trekkers like us and got cleaned up. Later that night after dinner our guide "Ronnie" told us the village was set up by chinese businessmen who later abandoned it and some village people moved in. They offered us massages and trinkets for sale, some of our group indulged but quickly found Thai time was in play which means one hours is more like 30 minutes. We had a great dinner prepared by some villagers who live next to the farang (foreigner) hut. Then "Ronnie" arranged for a little weed for a few in the group. Now mind you the penalty for drug possession in Thailand can be pretty harsh, apparently that did sway a few in the group. The area was also a big opium growing region for many years. Most of us(including  yours truly) declined the weed and drifted off to sleep on the floor under mosquito nets. I had been bitten earlier in the day and when I woke up in teh middle of the night sneezing and congested I was convinced I had Dengue Fever. Woke up to rain the next day and prepared to trek through the mud to another bigger waterfall. Went for a swim and then hiked down to the river for our rafting trip. Most in the group had been in whitewater before, this was more like brown/whitewater but pretty much the same. The rain had swollen the river so the ones who had never been before were a little nervous, I got a few in my boat. After a quick paddling instruction Thai style we shoved off into the river. It was a grand time with lots of rapids and Johnny the Irishman, who had never been loved it and wanted more. Also in true Thai style, our hour rafting trip was more like 30 minutes. We ended our second day on a bamboo raft float, rather dull in my opinion and had lunch by the river. I was the furthest hostel from where everyone else was going and my new friend "Ronnie" did want to go back to work so he used me as an excuse to go home early by telling his boss he had to take me to get some money I "owed" for the trip. Off to my hostel on the back of "Ronnie"'s moto and I was back for a night of sleep before leaving for the border and my 2 day slow boat trip.

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