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Aux and Lissa's Epic Cycle Journey

Into the Jungle...

THAILAND | Tuesday, 10 April 2007 | Views [473] | Comments [2]

after an unsuccessful few attempts to update the journal (thwarted by the most annoying canadian whining into her skype headset and pointing across lissa to get her mates attention) we are now sittin in a net cafe in chang rai, northern thailand just south of the notorious golden triangle. we left suphanburi by bus for chang mai about 5 or so days ago, and have spent most of that time hanging out in chang mai, one of the coolest cities in thailand i reckon. they offer a mountain biking tour to the massive hill on the edge of town for about $75 for a halfday so we took a photo of the map and decided to ride it ourselves. after pushing bikes uphill for 4 km we emerged at an old temple and found a road. we biked up that for a further 6 ish before getting to the top and ate about 2 whole barbequed chickens each and drank enough water to supply the town for a year and hanging out with a very cool elephant. he kept tapping on the back of the chicken selling lady begging for watermelon. pretty smart creatures. we got sick of the tourbus americans at the top of the hill and took the ride down. 11 km downhill i think. fuckin incredible. it took about 4 hours to get to the top and 14 minutes to get down again.
 
we did a trek up into the hills with a few other adventurous dudes and a guide with the strangest behaviour who liked to lead from the back of the line. we named him opiumboy. he cooked us some pretty awesome food on the 2 nights we spent in a specially constructed for tourists bamboo village. the drug fields that were grown by the hill tribe people 10 years ago had been replaced by cabbages, so looks like we were a decade too late to check out the poppies. shame. im pretty sure the villages make about 10X more from tourism than they would from the meagre money that growing cabbages would rake in. they must miss the good old days of cash crops. its pretty crap that wherever the tourists go they manage to fuck everything up, so although it was awesome to get into the bush, the hill tribes that i was really looking foward to seeing were a bit of a rehearsed letdown. they bring the children of the village in to entertain the tourists at night and they sing 'tribal' songs. which turned out to by christian hyms or something at the place we stayed on the second night cause it was a christian village. yeaah.
 
we did see somereally cool stuff up in the hills though. we saw an eagle flying past with a snake in its talons, and did an elephant trek which was much better than the 'cruelty to animals spectaculaarrrr' that we were packaged on in kanchanaburi, we walked for an hour so so through a bush trail thing, one of the guys having to sit on the neck and suffer all manner of crotchstrain cause there werent enough elephants to go around. our fulla seemed to take an instant dislike to me and sprayed mucus at me every chance he got. we had one vegitarian dude in our crew so opiumboy thought it was a huge joke to say that every animal we passed was dinner. it didnt seem to get old. as we walked into the christian village there was a bbq going on out the front. some rough loking guy cooking a whole animal on an open fire. as we got closer we could see that it was a big big catlike creature. wildcat. that was dinner too apparently.i couldnt quite work out if they are a native animal or not but im pretty sure they are native to the region if not to thailand. maybe it was 'eat a national animal day' or something, kinda like australiaday. opiumboy did tell us that poachers get 20,00 baht (about $870) for a tiger skin. on the last day we hiked to a river and did some whitewater rafting then bamboo rafting. there was a pack of semiwild dogs that chased us all down the river, jumping on and off our raft and attacking a cow that was hanging out on the river bank before being chased back into the river by some other dogs that were protecting the cow. i couldnt work out whether they belonged to the guy steering our raft, but he didnt seem to mind them hanging out with us.
 
the day we left was the start of the thai new year festivities, which is basically a week of getting water thrown at you. i sat on the roof of our transport taxi thing with opiumboy but everyone inside the vehicle got drenched by the buckets of water thrown in the side by hordes of excited children. prolly the only time thats its safer to sit on the roof, although one other dude climbed up and almost got decapitated by lowflying powerlines.
 
on our last day in chang mai we were supposed to get a 'aircon minibus' north then take a slow boat down the mekong to luang prabang in laos. we asked the package deal lady that we booked our tour with "are bikes ok on the bus and the boat?" and got the typical thai smile and nod and yes yes that generally means "i dont understand the question" but she seemed to be competent so we figured she knew what we ment. should have known better. the "aircon minibus" was actually a rather small van with a roofrack piled high with the packs of the 6 people already onbord. the guy looked at out bodybags and said no no too big, so we argued with him for an hour before saying fuckit, went back to the tour place, got a refund and took the night bus to chang rai. its a pretty small easy going town. we found a hostel easy enough and unloaded. i think we are the only people staying there but its cheap as and really comfortable so all good. some dude tried to sell us an aircon car trip to the golden triangle, but that just sounds perverted. and judging by the lack of cashcrops in the hills, i dont think the gloden triangle will live up to its reputation. tour operators here seem to lump all westerners in the same category. sell them a suit then take them on an air conditioned drive through the country. very lame. i might go for a ride out there this afternoon. its about 10 degrees cooler here than further south in bangkok, so a bike ride might be just the ticket. we are getting to luang prabang our own way, trying to do it cheaper than the tour we were booked on. should manage ok. we heading to the border tomorrow then might charter a boat to get us down the mekong and into laos. funfun! will try not to get eaten by the 20 foot long maneating cuttlefish that are said to infest these waters.
Aux

Tags: The Great Outdoors

Comments

1

I gotta say, the elephant that kept spraying mucus at you sounds like hes a good judge of character. Sounds awsome, can you bring me back a cuttlefish? SMOKE

  span Apr 10, 2007 7:11 PM

2

Gotta watch those snake carrying Eagles aye - although I think you're probably safer on your bikes than the 'air conditioned minibus' :D

  Ross Apr 17, 2007 6:38 PM

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