Friday, June 17, 2011

Trekking trials and tribulations

I spent the last 3 days trekking in the hills of northern Thailand. Sounds fun, right? Try doing it during monsoon season. In the city it hasn't been bad, it might rain once a day for 20 minutes and be done. Not in the mountains. It rained on and off everyday, for 3 days. Fun!
It started as all tours in Chiang Mai start, they pick you up in the morning and you hop into the back of a pickup. The 12 of my fellow trekkers and I squeeze into the tinniest truck possible and snake our way up the mountain and reached our first stop, an elephant ride. Bought some bananas to feed the beast during the  walk. Nobody wants a hungry elephant! They get cranky when they're hungry, much like me. I was paired with a couple of Koreans, who were quite nice. The girl was super scared of the elephant, which I found amusing. After our ride was over we started our trek up the mountain. Did I mention it was monsoon season? It rained for the first hour of our almost 4 hour hike. Guess what happens after it rains? That dirt path becomes mud; slick, slippery mud, at a steep uphill angel. Everyone quickly became covered with mud. Our clothes went from rain soaked to sweat soaked as the humidity cranked up when the rain stopped. Are we having fun yet?
The group made it in one mud-caked piece to the village where we were staying. The tribe we were staying with are from Tibet, about one generation ago. Almost all of the hill tribes in northern Thailand are from other countries, predominately Burma and Tibet. All trying to escape persecution, war, or starvation at home. They were the smallest, shortest people I've ever seen. I'm not tall and the women barely came up to my shoulders! Yet, they had no problem with the slick terrain. I jealously stared at them trying to gleam some tip to prevent myself from falling on my ass and ruining my only dry clothes. Oh, did I mention that part?
Since I was trekking for 3 days and had to carry my own pack I packed light. Makes sense, right? The problem was that nothing dried. Between the rain, humidity, and mist at night everything stayed wet, all the time. Clothes, socks, shoes, me. Luckily everyone had had similar packing styles and we just kind of embraced the wet dirtiness with no other choice.
What are the rules of gravity boys and girls? What comes up, must come down. Which means on the second day we got to descended in the slick, slippery mud. The terrain was slightly, slightly better than the day before in terms of steepness. Still, descending as a general rule is harder. Mix that with some mud and you've got a rocking good time! Are we having fun yet? Hello?.....Anyone?.....
There were a few nice waterfalls that we swam in. The scenery was beautiful as well, on the brief glances you gave yourself while trying not to fall. I did. Anybody else surprised? Yeah, me either. I figured I would be the one person to slip and land on my butt. Luckily it was it was in the water so my shoes just got a really good bath and I didn't get further caked with mud.
On the last day we had only a short hike and did a bit of white water rafting. I forgot how much fun that is. It was a nice high point to end the hike on. The rafting guy was funny. He kept singing row row row your boat, accidents everyday, when you see the crocodile don't forget to pray! That and OMB: oh my Buddha.
So, for 3 days I wore the same wet muddy clothes and shoes and hiked. There were definitely times (I have these thoughts often) when I think to myself, why? Why am I doing this? Why did I think this was a good idea? I, not only willingly signed up, but PAID to be hiking in rain and mud. What were you thinking Scott-Kem?
For all my bitching and whining it was a good experience. It was a nice break from the city and a change of pace. Plus, after 3 days of cooking and eating it was good to do some hiking. The best part? The shower and dry clothes when I got back. Oh, to be clean again. Ahh... After scrubbing my shoes I think they might even recover!

No comments:

Post a Comment