08/10/2009 - 12/10/2009
From Chiang Mai we took a 3 day/2 night trekking tour, with 3 others and the guide.
Orchid garden and butterfly farm
Sweaty Sue and dry me with jungle fruit (cucumber and banana flower) as our guide looks on unimpressedly
Thai jungle spiral plant
The first night we stayed in a chicken farming small village of 10 people and a few cats, terrifying Sue. We washed ourselves and our clothes in the brown river, and slept in a bamboo hut with 10 straw mats and mosquito nets.
The next day started with a trip to the elephant farm, where we rode for close to an hour
Bamboo rafting is the same as riding on a gondola, only not as high-tech
The long-neck hill tribe "village", which (before negotiation) costs an extra $10 to visit, is a series of about 20 gift shops staffed by people taken from refugee camps. They got to the camps after fleeing persecution in Myanmar. The "village" we went to had mostly long-neck hill tribe people (all women: they are taken unmarried and get married to locals thereafter). There were also a few long-ear people (who wear the earrings that make holes in the ear lobe). The dress between the two tribes is different, but one thing they have in common is tight metal bands from the middle of the top of their calf muscles. The guide said these are to keep them from running away from their husbands, but I suspect it's to keep them running away from their colony. They are only paid subsistance amounts of rice for working in the village, though the guide said that if they sell stuff they can use profits to buy other things (presumably for inflated prices from the company - there are no stores in the jungle).
After some more trekking, we stayed in thatched huts in a different village, and it rained the next morning
The following day we hiked to a summit overlooking the whole area. It was a couple hard hours to get up, but we all made it in good spirits.
Later in the day was whitewater rafting, which had a few good rapids. Apparently in the dry season it's just rafting rather than the whitewater type on account of the slower currents. The first day when we saw the river water we were really hoping that wouldn't be the whitewater rafting water, but after washing and doing laundry in the same water it didn't matter.
The price of the whole 3 days, including transport, elephant riding, bamboo rafting, whitewater rafting, 2 nights' sleep, 3 meals a day, a guide shared between 5 people, and a stop at the hill tribe "village" was 1200 THB or about $40, per person (negociated from an initial price of around 2000THB).
The next day we did ziplining, which was great fun. The company we went with - Jungle Flight - is locally owned, advertises much less than the other, and is apparently much better.
On the way back we stopped by some hot springs. They smelled sulfurous, and were really hot, probably around 80C
On our last night in Chiang Mai we got locked out of our hotel - unbeknownst to me they lock the building at 11pm, and I didn't bring the hotel keys because our room lock was a padlock so I used one of our padlocks instead. After plotting for awhile, Sue flagged down a motorcycle driver who was delivering something to another hotel in the area. He woke up the manager of our hotel in her room, and she angrily came out to open the door. The next day her arm was in a cast, but she told us it was unrelated.