I know the title of this post is off putting.  But if you still opened it and are willing to read then we can still be friends.  I’ve even been putting this post off just because I knew it would be an extensive one.  Especially editing all the photos.  But for you guys, I’m doing it.   I’ve got a full stomach, a six pack of beer and lots of time.  I hope you have the same!

The company I booked my trek through pick you up right from your accommodation, which I absolutely love.  I was the first one to be picked up and was really excited to meet the people I would be living so close with for the next couple of days!  The first person we picked up was a beautiful French girl around my age named Laetitia.  I’m thinking perfect, we will be instant friends.  She had broken English but was always willing to learn.  The second person we picked up was an American man in his mid to late 60’s named Tom.   Now I don’t want to be mean, but I’m thinking, is this guy for real?  Did they tell him that this is an up hill trek through the jungle and we will be sleeping in huts? He couldn’t hardly even get into the truck!  At this point I’m seriously concerned.   That was it just us.  I was a little sad that our group was so small, but that’s minor

We drove for a little over an hour and stopped at a local market so the driver could pick up food for our trek.  I ate some food, cause I’m a fat kid and the breakfast I had was pathetic.  P.S. breakfast is not a thing in SE Asia.  It’s really weird.  Also, I can’t pass up food at a Thai market! This would have been a good opportunity for me to get a second bottle of water, but of course I didn’t do that.  I did however buy a small bottle of DEET bug spray, because I seriously attract those pesky little buggers.

Now this part is hard to write and the worst part of this experience for me.  I’m sure none of you want to read about this.  But I’m going to tell you anyways.  We went to an elephant park.  I knew about this already but nothing could prepare me.  I don’t believe in riding elephants and I’m very against it.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about then watch this NOW-  https://youtu.be/YcvGGe-zpIA Now we’re on the same page right?

The other two in my group did ride the elephants.  The park that we were at had a baby elephant tied up away from all the other elephants.  It was so sad.  I paid twice to feed the baby.  I sat with her for an hour and cried.  All the people were staring at me like I was crazy but I couldn’t help it.  This is so terrible to me.  The abuse and keeping this baby away from it’s family.   I was still crying when the other two got back from their ride.  The American man asked me if I didn’t ride because of the abuse and I told him yes.  He said he noticed the hooks used and the chains on his own and had been feeling bad about riding himself.  We all 3 spent the next 45 minutes of our ride talking about elephant and all animal abuse.  I found this really therapeutic for me after being so upset.  I could tell there was a lot of awareness shed during that ride and I honestly don’t think that either of them would ever ride an elephant again.

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We finally reached the trail head where we met our wonderful guide named Louis and unloaded and began our trek.  It was mid day and really hot!  But our first stop was a beautiful waterfall carved into large rocks. There was so much green and vegetation.  The sound of the waterfall was so peaceful and we ate our lunch of fried rice and went swimming in the waterfall pools and climbed on all the rocks.  The water was cool and refreshing.  Which was just what we needed before we took off for our very long up hill hike into the middle of the jungle.   Did I forget to tell you that I only had 1 bottle of water.  I know, what an idiot!

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The trek on our first day was only supposed to take 3 hours.  It took us 4.  I’m sure I don’t need to mention why *cough* old man.  Louis had him take most everything out of his backpack and carried it himself, Louis also made a walking stick for him, we had to make frequent stops, the pace was so slow.  I don’t know about you but I find it way more challenging climbing a hill slowly.  I need some speed for momentum.  Louis was an angel and a saint and was so patient with Tom.  He let me lead the way so Laetitia and I could keep a decent pace and he stayed behind with Tom.  4 hours ALL uphill folks!  Really challenging but so rewarding.  The jungle is alive with noises I have never heard before and so many different insects and plants I’ve never seen before.  All my senses were buzzing!

We arrived, exhausted, in our first hill tribe village just before dark.  Walking through the village was so amazing and eye opening.  The huts and homes have so much life and character.  I loved seeing the children running around barefoot chasing chickens and playing hide and seek, woman singing while doing house chores, neighbors conversing from porch to porch.  Everyone was cooking and eating and settling in for the night.  The sun was setting and there was huge puffy clouds that had a beautiful pink tint from the setting sun!  We were shown to our hut which had three “beds” each one covered with a bug net.  One of the beds had another traveler in it.  A Swiss man who spoke zero English.  Laetitia and I shared a bed and Tom was in the other bed.  The hut had no door and no electricity.  No shower or clean water.  The “outhouse” was a traditional Thai toilet which is basically a hole in the ground, you flush by putting water from a bucket down the hole.

For dinner our host made us green curry and mixed stir fried vegetables, rice and a plate of watermelon and pineapple.  It was so authentic and delicious, they made enough to feed 15 and there was only four of us!  I helped myself to seconds and then thirds.  I deserved it after that day of trekking.  They served us and cleaned up after us. They were so friendly, gracious and accommodating.  They made us a bon fire and sat and chatted with us for a few hours before we headed to bed.

I slept pretty well considering I slept on wood boards with a blanket under me and shared a blanket with Laetitia to keep warm.  I woke in the morning to a gorgeous multi colored chicken walking around our hut and pecking at each of our mosquito nets and then clucking to make sure we all woke up.  It was hilarious!  We were served breakfast which was white bread, fruit and 1 boiled egg.  We bought bottles of water from the villagers and also bought some handmade jewelry from the woman and kids and then we headed out for our second day of trekking.  We trekked for about 3.5 hours total.  We stopped for about an hour at one village where they served us noodle soup for lunch.  Then kept trekking for 2 hours until we reached the waterfall camp.

The waterfall camp we stayed at for our final night was so amazing.  The camp was set about a ten minute walk outside of the village.  We stopped in the village to chat with some villagers who offered us food and water, I’m sure we looked like we needed it!  We met up with the owner and creator of the waterfall camp in town and he led the way to his waterfall camp that he has so expertly created.  Being from the village near this waterfall, he grew up climbing around the jungle surrounding the water fall and swimming in the pools it created.  It was his favorite spot and he always dreamed of building a camp next to the waterfall so he would never have to leave.

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The waterfall camp was beautiful, small and very well kept.  Sitting right next to the waterfall and against the rocks made it feel almost like the waterfall was a part of the home.  The main very open building probably could sleep 12 plus people.  There were several mosquito nets and lots of hand made blankets.  He does all of his cooking off a small little stone stove that he cooked us both dinner and breakfast on.  No running water, so the waterfall is the shower and the dish washer.  He made baskets out of bamboo to hang all of his dishes and he hung all the food from the ceiling so that the critters wouldn’t get to it.  Honestly, I fell in love with the guy.  He actually was really handsome and I was so impressed with what he has created.  You can see and feel all the love and time he has put into the place.

 

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Sleeping with a waterfall as your background music is life changing.  So therapeutic and calming.   I fell asleep in an instant and also had my own little sleeping space.  In the middle of the night I woke up freezing and didn’t have anything more to keep warm.  All the blankets were half the size of myself.  I had four but had to be really strategic in my placing of the blankets in order to stay covered and then as soon as I moved I was freezing again.  So that was not awesome.

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Our final day was all downhill, which my muscles didn’t appreciate.  We left from waterfall camp around 10am after breakfast which was an egg scramble and toast.  Louis our guide had been out hunting frogs and grilled a few for us to try.  Yes, I tried the frog.  Louis had worked so hard, I couldn’t refuse.  We trekked for about 3 and a half hours.  At the end of our trek we were picked up from the trail and taken to the river to go bamboo rafting as our finale.  Bamboo rafting was amazing.  The jungle is so beautiful!  We were served lunch riverside and then we made the hour or so ride back to Chiang Mai to be dropped off.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you but this trek was life changing.  I really felt like I was a part of the true culture of Thailand and all its glory.  I felt so at peace in the jungle, like nothing else mattered and all I had to do in this life was keep walking.  I had no sense of direction and having my wonderful guide Louis gave me peace of mind enough to allow myself to be lost in the jungle.  Absolutely an experience that was impactful and something I will never forget.  If you read this whole thing, you deserve a gold star.  Hope you still have a beer or two left for the videos.  For videos follow my YouTube link at the top of my page!