Our day began with an early start, alarm clocks set for 7am, breakfast half 7, packing 8am, bag check and check out 8.15 and then picked up at 8.30.
After getting in the bmp (our tour company) open back truck, we headed to the bmp lodge to pick up the rest of our jungle trekking crew, soon to be known as the chang gang, and headed up to the jungle.
On the way we stopped off at a local 7/11 and market to stock up on fruit and water for the journey and then reloaded the truck and set off towards the jungle.
Our trek started with.. A trek. I don’t think any of us realised how strenuous jungle trekking would be. 30 plus degree heat, backpacks, up hill through a jungle, our tour leader, machete in hand, clearing the path way for us to walk. After about an hour of beautiful scenery we came to a small Thai temple. All of the trees leading up to the point of prayer were tied with orange ribbons – the colour of the monks.
Soon after the temple we arrived at a small water fall, our first cooling down point of the day. We swam in the water fall and cooled down under the fountain until we were called in for lunch – vegetable rice wrapped in a giant leaf and tied with a piece of straw – and it was delicious! After about another hours walking we arrived at an even bigger waterfall with a cave behind the actual fall of the water where you could stand.
Here we swam and cooled off again before completing our last trek to a village high up in the mountains where we would be staying the night.
Dinner was made for us by the locals, delicious green curry, steamed vegetables, noodles and rice and after an evening of talking round the campfire we all went to our little huts so spend our first night.
After waking up to hot toast and scrambled eggs, again made by the locals whose village we’d slept in that night, and discussing who had had the fewest hours sleep due to the freezing conditions up the mountain and the cockerel that decided to cockadoodledoo at about 5am, we headed off for day two of trekking. The serious hiking day. This day was our biggest and most strenuous in terms of tackling the jungles terrain. After visiting a local school, we walked accross farm lands, marsh lands, up steep sand hills, across rivers, bridges, through waterfalls and even walked in an ants trail across the different levels of the rice paddy until about 3 hours later we arrived at our lunch destination: A small village located right at the top of a very steep hill – granted it took us a long time to get there and we all collapsed at the top but it was worth it for the view! After a very very very long lunch of super noodles, coca cola and lots of water, we headed off again to trek some more! The afternoon hike, although long was not as hard, as it was mostly downhill and soon we arrived at the village where we would be spending the night. A desolate village right next to a small waterfall and wide river.
Dinner on this night was chicken and potato curry with roasted pumpkin and green beans, again an amazing meal made by the locals.
Day three in the jungle only included one solitary hour of walking, something that everyone was very pleased with. We started off the day with our first and only trek down to a road where we all piled into the back of an open-back truck (all fifteen of us) and headed off to see the elephants. Here we enjoyed an elephant ride and got to feed them sugar cane, it was actually quite sad to see them chained up but we were reassured that they are well looked after and we decided that we’d rather them walk around a paddock holding people then get exploited for their tusks!
After our elephant ride we reloaded the truck and headed off to our lunch spot – more delicious local food! And then again back in the truck, this time bagless and clothless (with bikinis don’t worry) as we were heading off to go rafting!
The rafts were five bamboo sticks wide floating devices which were very long and sat four people in a line behind one Thai man and a bamboo stick who pushes us along. The rafting journey started off quite peacefully until we came across locals bathing in the river, thinking it would be hilarious to splash us and try and tip us in! Then the journey got even more adventurous when the calm river turned into white rapids and our raft got faster and faster making it’s way between the rocks and narrow streams!
After a relaxing, exciting and quite scary at times raft journey we arrived back safety!
After the rafting, those who wanted got the opportunity to travel up to see the long neck tribe, a Burmese tribe who live secluded in the mountains and have the local tradition of wearing gold rings around their necks. They add an extra ring for every year that they live and so soon their necks stretch to the extent that if they took the rings off, their necks would collapse. So two of the couples that I had met while trekking, another girl I had just met and I travelled up to visit them and to learn about their culture! It was a truly amazing experience seeing the tribe and although it was sad to see how isolated they are by the other Thais, they were very friendly women and little girls, who were happy to show us their beautiful necklaces and pictures of their relatives with even longer necks. Now I know why they are nicknamed the giraffe women!
This evening Juliet and I honestly didn’t think we could eat another bite of Thai food and so went for a quick Italian before having a very needed shower – it’s extremely hard to stay clean in the jungle… But we have had a great three days and experienced a jungle trek we will never forget!