My first week in a new country and I am off on a two-day hike into the Thai jungle, up in the North just outside of Chiang Mai, although still under the influence of jet lag, an exciting adventure awaits.
At first, I am completely in awe of the beauty surrounding me, but after hiking up a steady incline for hours the scenery soon begins to look a lot less appealing and the focus becomes more on keeping breath rather than on admiring all that is breath-taking.
Finally after making it up to the top of the jungle, beaded in sweat, I manage to catch my breath again and…drum roll please, it’s shower time for me.
Shower fresh and on top of the jungle world with my new, two-day hiking companions, the evening begins with ‘khaopad gai’ (fried rice with chicken) for dinner and a bit of beer drinking while watching the sun as it sets over the hills. A thousand pictures could never truly capture the beauty. Magnificent! After the sun has disappeared, like many great evenings, the drinks keep flowing; and no thanks to our drinking game antics the night before, a few of us wake up with charcoal, war-painted streaks across our cheeks. Silly drinking games!
The trek back down was steep, but not nearly as bad as the uphill we endeavoured the day before. Surprisingly the hangover was non-existent. Canada and I braved a mutual dare and were the only ones (Noddy-badge) to swim in the ice-cold waterfall that we passed on the way down to the elephant camp.
Riding on the elephants proved to be somewhat uncomfortable and Australia was a little nervous despite the fact that this was her third go. This didn’t make me feel any less anxious about riding on a large animal that could throw a man (or woman) off and flatten them in one stomp, but our Elly followed the path and kept us on board.
Next was adrenaline pumping, white water rafting. There are no words to appropriately describe how enjoyable this is, it is just way too much fun.
After the white waters we climbed onto a more mellow bamboo boat for our final leg down the river. This was pretty peaceful, but my butt began to lose feeling after about five minutes and my fingers and toes pruned up.
All in all, I would say jungle trekking in Chiang Mai is definitely something that everyone who comes to Thailand needs to try. Just make sure you are fitter than just being marginally fit. If you are not, avoid the uphill trek altogether. Take mosquito repellent, sunscreen, something to wipe the sweat off with, a big bottle of water, but most of all take that jolly, happy smile and have fun.