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Lost in a big world

The Nest

THAILAND | Tuesday, 23 December 2008 | Views [972]

Tired of city life, I headed North to Chiang Dao in the Mountains. My
typical trip, started with a shared taxi across town for 20 baht to the bus
station, a 1.5 hour bus ride for 40 baht, and then a 10 minute ride in (an
empty) shared taxi for 150 baht. The bus ride was interesting, since there
were 3 local women in traditional outfits that came on board (one sat next
to me and helped me figure out where to get off), a few monks, and in the
middle two military officers came on board and checked everoye's ID. That
is, everyone EXCEPT me. I was booked for days in Chiang dao Nest, a
beautiful resort in the mountains, that is known for its food. The Chaing
dao caves, a tourist attraction, is nearby. My first day, I went 10 minutes
up the road and then 500 steps up to a monastery in the side of a mountain.
At about 300 steps, you got to a viewpoint and.... wow, what a stunning view
of a wat in the side of the mountain! I did not even know about this place
and here is one of the best views in Asia. I laid down to enjoy the setting
and was relaxing, and contemplating the universe until my serenity was
finally disturbed... by a monk on a cellphone! How strange. Having my moment
disturbed, I continued to the top of the steps and looked around the wat,
which was nothing special. On my way down, I ran into Dave (of Dave and Mel)
for the 5'th time in a week. He and mel had driving motorbikes up top the
caves and then were told to go to see this monastery but Mel stayed at the
bottom, since she was not feeling well. So I went to the bottom, showed her
some photos, and sent her up for the view.

Next I took a 1 hour hike through the woods and over a small mountain to
another wat, some sacred fishes (I have no idea....), and the chiang dao
cave, which contained both cool stalactite/mite formations, neat rocks in
the shapes of things, and various Buddhas including a statue of a sleeping
Buddha. I was taken around by a guide with a candle and, after seeing the
Buddha, I reminded another group to be quiet since the Buddha was sleeping.

Finally I went back to the nest for dinner (an amazing salmon with tapanade
dinner), booked myself on the 3 day trek that was leaving in 2 days, and had
a relaxing evening.

The next day, I contemplated climbing the Chiang Dao mountain (3rd largest
in Thailand), but instead just wrote 6 blog entries since I was so far
behind and I wanted to rest for the trek. For dinner, I walked over to nest
2 with a couple from the Netherlands, had a drink with them (which they paid
for without my even noticing), and then I sat down and had dinner with two
friendly british women (Katie and Krissy), who turned out to be on my trek
the next day.

On the "Trek" was myself, a guy from san fran (Toby), and the women from
dinner. I say, "Trek" since it was not quite a long walk in the woods. On
day 1 we were driven to some elephants. There were 3 large elephants owned
by one of the hill tribes. One of the mahouts, had a hook blade. I announced
that I was not getting on if he uses that, and the mahouts agreed to not use
the hook. In fact the, one with the hook left, so we went 2 and 2 on the
elephants. I still think we were too heavy, but these were much bigger
elephants than I had wridden in laos.

Anyway, after the elephant ride through some nice scenery, we had lunch and
got on some bamboo rafts. These were rafts that they took apart and put back
together everyday, so we  were semi-submerged. But the rafts held, and we
had a relaxing ride down a river with only locals around. We visited 5
villages that day,. A few people were selling stuff, but mostly they were
going about there business. At one school, the kids kept jumping on katie.
It seemed spontaneuous since they ignored the rest of us, and their were no
adults around (where exactly was the teacher?). We spent the night in a
large bamboo hut, that leaked cold air, and were kept up by the roosters who
for some reason started at 1 AM. The next morning, one young guy from the
village with a long sawed off shotgun, kept passing bye, and eventually the
gun was fired, and a pig was killed. We were told it was a crazy pig, I just
think they were hungry.

I should note that there were lots of cute pigs on this trek!

On day 2 we hiked to a cave. The women did not go in, and our  guide led us
through an interesting cave where we had to crawl on our bellys for much of
the hour. We came back to the village, had lunch, and then hiked for about 3
hours with our backpacks (the ONLY hiking we did with out packs), including
a visit to a waterfall where Toby and I took a shower.
Finally, we arrived at a village in a stunning location in the mountains. In
fact some local teachers came up there for the weekend also. I got drunk on
local whiskey and beer and went to sleep (with all my clothes and socks wet).
The following morning everything was still wet, and I was freezing, but I
got up, sat outside from 5 AM to 7 in my bare feet, and took photos as the
fog slowly moved. the sun had not yet come out (it didn'y come up until well
after 8) but the scenery was stunning. Almost as stunning as Angkor wat.
What a show.
A few interesting things happened the last day, when we hiked for 4-5 hours and visited a cave. At one point we visited a local school. Toby taught english for a little while and then toby and I taught "Row Row Row your boat" to the kids. One kid wasn't singing, so I singled him out to sing alone. Well he didn't sing alone, but when we started as a group again he sang. Thai's really do not like being singled out, I think...

Since the hiking was not serious, both toby and Krissy were hiking in flip flops the entire trip (I was told that my Tiva's were good enough, and were preferable to shoes since we will be going through lots of streams). Krissy's flip flops broke during the last day, so she switched to my socks. Imagine, trekking in Socks!

At lunch time, our local guide took a knife and made us brand new bowls (tube shaped) from bamboo, and cooked us some food which we ate in our bamboo bowls. How cool.

Anyway, after the final day of hiking I returned to the nest (ahh, comfortable beds!) ate a goat cheese souffle, slept, and headed back to Chang Mai the next morning on the bus. Again, the bus got stopped by military. But this time a women was taken off the bus. Hmm.

Tags: trek


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