Trekking in Chiang Mai
I’m not quite sure what I expected, but it was definitely not this. We’re having jet another rest, a mere ten minutes easy (flat terrain on a well trodden path) walk after the last one, but still people are lagging far, far behind. It was supposed to be a trekking trip, don’t people know that trekking means that you have to walk? You just don’t miraculously get from point A to point B without breaking a sweat. Well, on this walk I guess you could (except for one steep 15-20 minute part, and yes, that one was a bit hard, you were allowed to be tired after that part – maybe not so tired as to throw up though…) – without breaking a sweat I mean, you still have to walk – if it hadn’t been for the overpowering humid heat. Especially in the tempo we’re going, or not going as it turns out most of the time.
But okay, let’s be a little bit fair here, I’ve done tons of trekking in Norway, I did the Salkantay-trek in Peru a few years ago, and right before I came to Thailand I did some trekking in New Zealand (like the Tongariro crossing, a trek on Franz Josef glacier and in Mt Cook National Park), I’m used to walking in mountains and on uneven terrain, I know what my body can handle and what I can expect of a trek, and not everyone can have that experience yet, they have to gain it at some point. Some people are slower than others (I have often been the slow one on many a hike in my life), I understand and respect that perfectly well. But still, please, please don’t sign up for a two day or three day trek if you’ve barely even taken a Sunday stroll in the park before.
Well, not that it was much of a trek anyways, and generally things turned out to be not as they were supposed to. The first day we walked for about two and a half hours, the second maybe three, and the third about three hours as well (I have a faint memory of the itinerary explaining the course of the trip mentioning day treks of around 5 hours). As it turned out all of us had gotten different itineraries all together, and none was the right one. And to add to that they just put people going on a two day and three day trek together (there will be no more than 12 people in the group, also a faint memory from the travel agency, and a faint memory from everyone’s different travel agencies), so for the first one and a half day we were over 20, the last one and a half, around 15.
Our one hour (or was it one and a half it was supposed to be?) elephant ride turned out to be about 30 minutes. Not that I minded that alteration though, as I just felt sorry for the poor beautiful animals, trodding the same steep path in a loop all day long, day in and day out. We probably weren’t even supposed to ride elephants the first day, and we definitely weren’t going to sleep at the elephant camp, but we all just decided not to care to much about that, and just try to have a good time.
And sure, we did have a good time. Okay, we didn’t really do much trekking, the first waterfall we went to wasn’t much of a waterfall, rather a water slide (which was cool, but it wouldn’t really have been that hard to call it a water slide and not a waterfall). But the second waterfall, which was quite a surprise cause nobody had told us about it, was actually quite nice, especially to cool down in before trekking up a quite steep and hard part (by this time only a nice small group was left as all the lazy people on the three day trek had paid for a lift with a van to the village were we would spend the second night, and we’d left everyone doing a two day trek to fend for themselves rafting in the river). We went past another elephant camp (there seems to be quite a lot of them in the area) where we met a gorgeous little elephant baby around five months old, but he didn’t like me very much and tried pushing me into the bushes with it’s head, and pretty much succeeded. Who would have thought that gorgeous small little creature could be that strong?
I jumped boldly into a game of Tarok with some Slovenians in our group as it seemed pretty similar to loads of card games I use to play with my family, except the card deck is complete shit, and filled with weird cards with different symbols. It turned out to be a lot more different and difficult to learn (they did warn me) than I thought at first, and I didn’t really feel very overly confident about it anymore, until they told me I was a fast learner and I even played a lot better than a friend of them (who apparently was horribly bad at it) who’d played for years – that made me feel better again, and not like I’d completely ruined their game.
Some adorably cute children from the village came and performed tons of songs without a single stop, making us think they were singing this incredibly long song, until they started on Frère Jaques, and we realized they’d been singing lots of different songs all the time. We showered by throwing small buckets with ice cold water over our heads (I still don’t understand how the rivers there can be that cold, cause the weather was so hot, or actually it was pretty cold at nighttime as I recall shivering through the first night, even with my wool underwear on), and on the third day we saw a real, real waterfall, went rafting, and that was it. I even remembered to take some pictures (which I for some reason have been forgetting quite a lot after New Zealand, and I thought I would take more pictures, travelling with another photographer and all.)