Having had our pre-trek talk, we were all ready to go, and really looking forward to the trek, but then we bumped into some girls that we had met a couple of days ago and who had gone on the same trek we were doing the day before, but they had come rather quickly, having not even survived the first day as one of the girls had slipped in a waterfall and broken her ankle.
Off we set in a our truck with the rest of the group for a 2 hour drive up into the mountains. Our group was a mixed bag of people, ranging from a trio of teenage canadians, a fiesty french bird with a odd french man in tow, a friendly dane, and a nice couple from England.
Our first afternoon was spent easing us into what they called a gentle trek (but it was far from that), to the first hill tribe village. One of the guides took pity on CJ who was lagging at the back, not through lack of fitness, more through fear of her 'ankles giving way' or her falling off the narrow paths and banging her fragile head, and swiftly made her a walking stick from a nearby bamboo tree.
Our accommodation for both nights was at two different hill tribe villages, the first one being much more primitive. Both villages were full of animals, it was just like Animal Farm!! Our cleaning and washing facilities consisted of a nearby river, and the toilets, well just look at the photo!! Having both survived a few days at Glastonbury this year, it really was a walk in the park.
After reading a few comments in our guide books, we had been recommended to buy the village children some presents. Apparently balloons are a real favourite! And this was certainly true when we handed some out that evening!! We also took along some crayons and colouring books which equally went down well!
In the evenings we all sat around in our hut, chatting, and talking to ourguide about the hill tribes etc. One night he introduced us to a game called Rambo which is hard to describe but lets just say you needed a good memory, and if you slipped up for a moment, you got a black soot mark on your face! The photos tell you how we did!!
On the second day we finally got a chance to ride an elephant. Our trusty steed was called Major. Lets just say the first 10 mins were a bit scary as we had to ride the elephants down the narrow paths that we had struggled on foot earlier that day and were worried about how steady they were on their feet, but we need not have worried as they are very sure footed. Major was quite a mischievious elephant in the fact that he seemed to find it quite funny when he collected a bit of water and dirt from the path in his trunk then squirted it all over us! It was a very slow but enjoyable trek, and nothing like riding a horse!!
Our last leg of the trek consisted of floating down the river in a homemade bamboo raft that had been whisked together that morning by the village people! Imagine 6 people, rucksacks and all, trying to balance on a flimsy raft made of bamboo, not easy when you can't sit down and have to stand all the way with nothing to hold onto!! Our captain (one of the guides), seemed to be more concerned about catching fish as we were going along rather than steering the vessel, and we ended up losing a passenger off the back a few times through crashing into the riverbank. Needless to say we both managed to stay aboard the raft for the entire journey!
It was a fantastic experience and certainly one that we would recommend to anyone coming to Chiang Mai.