The lo-down on our Chaing Mai trek and what we have been up to in Boys Town!
06.01.2010 - 12.01.2010 35 °C
How are you all? I hope you are all great going into Feb, can you believe its the second month of 2010 already?!?! I definitely can't, I think my timeline was paused when I left in October, so I'm proper confused!!!
Anyway, I left you last time half way through our adventures up in Chaing Mai, so I will now complete that chapter and tell you all about Boys Town, where we have been for the last few weeks.
So after cooking and eating enough food to last us a fair few days, we went off on a three day trek to hopefully burn some of it off. We were again collected from our guesthouse and taken to an orchid farm, which was pretty amazing, and had so many different kinds, just hanging above the ground with really huge roots, which was odd. There were 11 in our group, and everyone was so lovely! There was a family of four from New Zealand - Dave, Karen, Mitch and Ryan - a couple from America who had just spent a couple of years working in the Africa for the Peace Corp - Ashley and Ben - and a couple from the UK, Carl who was from Wales and Karen who was from Scotland. We all seemed to get on pretty much instantly, and filled the rest of the hour long bus journey chatting and comparing travel stories!
The journey ended at an Elephant camp, where we had lunch, before hopping on an elephant for a little walk. This time Dan and I were on a seat, and James was sitting on the neck of the elephant. A slightly better arrangement than our Indian experience (well for Dan and I at least!), and the walk was a lot longer this time. We went down the hill to the river where the elephants played in the water and the tiny baby had a swim and a wash and just generally had a great wet time! We then walked back up the hill behind the big mama elephant who had a super huge bum!!! Being aroud the elephants was great, and seeing the landscape around us from the top of one of these huge, gentle creatures was really special. Everything looked so lush, and it really did feel like we were in the thick of it already, despite having so much more to come!
After the elephant walk we began the first part of the trek up to a waterfall. The first climb was quite tough, as we were walking though some thick undergrowth and the track was generally quick steep. The heat was really quite oppressive at the same time, and by the time we reached the waterfall we were all ready for a little rest. As you can see from the pics (http://www.flickr.com/photos/abilucy) James and Dan were so hot they jumped in the waterfall immediately, and cooled off, before considering the fact that they had bought a minimal amount of clothing with them, and had just drenched one out of the two possibly outfits! hehe!
We then spent another couple of hours going up the hill/mountain! It was pretty hard going, but once we were at the top the views down the valley and across the landscape were completely breath-taking, We were definietly in the jungle! Our guides, Dom and Bin, explained that we were staying in the village that we had arrived at, with a family who were part of the hill tribe call the Lahu tribe. The house that we were going to be sleeping in was entirely made of bamboo, from the stilts that it stood on about 12 ft off the ground to the benches that we were sitting on! The toilets and showers were set down the hill slightly, and definitely weren't built for privacy, but they did the trick after the super sweaty climb, and once we had cleaned up, we had dinner. After we'd eaten, we all sat around the fire, chatting and telling more stories. However, our attentions turned to one particular story that originated i the toilet of a giant spider, that Dan and I spotted, on a group trip to the loo in order to share the torch!! The boys then went down to investigate, and sure enough it was officially the biggest spide most of us had ever seen! This is a picture of the fella in question:
As most of you know I am not the biggest fan of spiders, so I scuttled off to bed after this episode, and generally felt like I had about a thousand of them crawling all over me, before I finally went to sleep. Dan and a couple of the others in the group were fairly convinced they heard some kind of large cat (tiger, lion, liger etc) in the middle of the night, but I wasn't disturbed by this, so I can't possibly comment!
The following morning we woke up to find that it had rained - a lot - throughout the night, and most of the things we had left out to dry on the balcony, were now even more wet then when we'd hung them out! But after breakfast we donned our sqelchy shoes and socks, and headed across the fields and back into the jungle, in search of more waterfalls. The rain had obviously made the entire forest floor completely trecherous, and we spent most of that part of the trek doing less trekking, and far more sliding. Dan took an impression couple of tumbles, and we were shoved out of the way a couple of times by a group of aggressive frenchman, but we made it to the first waterfall on the right side of safetly, and had a quick dip in the freezing water and had some lunch. Again the surrounding scenery was completely beautiful and we really did feel like we were in the middle of nowhere. After lunch we carried on to the second waterfall which was huge and cascading down the rocks into the pool below. This was just a short wander from our second camp, where we were staying with another group from a differnt hill tribe who were all incredibly welcoming, and very friendly, getting stuck into chat between us and our guide, and laughing like schoolgirls, despite having recently celebrated their 40th birthday! The bamboo shacks that were to house us for the evening were on stilts right next to the river, which we could hear soaring down the hills as we ate dinner and relaxed by the fire again.
On the last day we woke up and headed down the valley, following the river through the hills, and out onto some open planes before reaching the white water rafting site. The variation in the landscapes that we had travelled through was amazing, and we just couldn't get over how this was all just an hour away from Chaing Mai, a fairly big city!
So once we had clambered into our rafting gear, we hopped onto a couple of rafts and began our journey in two groups, down the river. I loved rafting, and had so much fun, taking orders from our instructor, and trying to avoid the big rocks, and sailing down the rapids! It was great! We had a couple of run-ins with the other team, and plenty of banter and splashing before we reached a calmer part of the river, where we climbed over to the bamboo rafts that we got back to the lunch site just round the corner from where we had ridden the elephants on the first day. James steered the bamboo raft, so all that Oxford punting experience came in handy, and we arrived at the site after a nice relaxing, if a little wet (I was soaked up to my waist!) ride. After eating a delicious lunch (the food throughout the trek was amazing, and russled up on small fires in the bamboo huts by our various hosts!) we headed back to Chaing Mai and organised to all meet up in a bar in town for a few drinks later that night. We had a really great time and it was nice to see everyone after a shower!! hehe.
We then had a couple more days just chilling in Chaing Mai before heading to Boys Town. For those of you that are unaware, we had agreed to do some volunteer work for an independent charity called The Joe Homan Charity, which sets up and runs various childrens homes in India and Thailand, providing education, accomodation and opportunities that would not readily be available to underprivileged children. Please have a look at the website for more information, especially on Boys Town, as it will give you a better idea of the fantastic work that is being carried out (not to sound too preachy!!!)
Dan and James were going to try and fix the computers that were on site, and I was going to be doing some teaching, and helping the boys with general English conversation. So we arrived in Khon Kaen, which is the nearest city to Boys Town, about 40km away, and were collected from the bus station from Pramote, who was one of the orginial boys to attend Boys Town 20 years ago. He is now managing the site and looks after all of the 60 boys that live there. We arrived in Boys Town and were shown to the guesthouse where we have been styaing for the duration of our time here. It's been so nice to have a proper house again, being able to cook for ourselves, and have our own space. Pramote had to go and attend some meetings so we were left to our own devices to look around and get our bearings. The site includes the boys' bedrooms, kitchen, dining hall, classroom, football pitch and lots of gardens where vegetables and fruits are grown. The lake has fish in, which the boys catch for dinner, and there are also chickens and a little dog who wanders around observing the days' activities.
To be continued shortly! Far far too much for one blog!
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