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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Within The Woods

The 4x4 shuddered to a stop, a small trail of white smoke issuing from the engine. We shouldered our backpacks, tightened our shoelaces, checked our bush-knives then hastily dumped it all in the jeep, threw on our flip-flops and rambled the 100 odd yards over to our first stop - the long neck and big ear tribe!

Unfortunately, although it was really interesting to see the women, the 'village' felt all to much like a human-zoo of some kind. The village simply consisted of a single line of stalls where the women wove their shoals and wraps. There was definitely a sense that the village existed solely for the tourist market and that, perhaps, without it the tradition of wearing all the jewelry would simply fade away.

Feeling a little weary from our 100 yard trail walk we all sat down for a good feed which turned out to be a rather yummy mix of fried vegetable rice and some fresh pineapples! After which the real trek began ... doo, doo, doooooo ...

We spent the rest of the day slashing and burning a path through the thick rain forests of upper Thailand. Chainsaws in hand, well bamboo sticks anyway, we quickly carved a route through forest, tea-plantations and streams to the first of our village stop-overs : The Blue Lahu.

Upon approaching the village we were passed by two local youths on a 50cc motorbike wearing Adidas silkas shell jackets and brandishing some mobile phones - I was beginning to think that the remote, simple village life described in the Lonely Planet may have been a little romantic!

A few moments later and we were shown to our accommodation for the evening - a rather funky wee stilt-supported hut overlooking the village piggery. Although the villagers led a comparatively simple life to that which we had left behind in Chiang Mai, they by no means lead the Amazonial life the guide books would lead you to believe.

Coke Cola, Oreos and all manner of goodies were freely available from the local shop and in the end I guess the hill tribes are really more a collection of people who have chosen to continue to live a rural way of life; away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

We awoke to the quaint sound of pigs gently squealing their God darn ... Anyway! Another solid day in the saddle ensued, by which, of course, I mean walking. Up, up and some more up before a wee bit of down. But that was really just nature's excuse to give us even more up!

Luckily though our mysterious guide, known only as M, was a bit of a dab hand at the old cooking and had been busy while we'd been snoozing whipping up some yummy lunch and wrapping it all up in some palm leaves! A short rest to munch our way through this feast and we were back on track for our second stop: The Black Lahu.

Now, it turns out that, as was the case with the Blue Lahu, the Black Lahu aren't actually painted black from head to toe. They do, however, make some rather funky bamboo huts for their visitors to stay in, complete with a kitchen in the corner and a bundle of cooks to boot!

After a mighty feast the evening before and some well deserved snoozing we began our third and final day - The Neph Day! Our agenda for the day was simply to race our fellow trekkers around on elephants and rafts! By nitro boosting our neph with bananas we were able to tear away into the lead and hit the rafting section ahead of the rest.

Some careful splashing of the opposition on the way down the rapids allowed us to hold on to the lead and we hit the lazy bamboo raft with plenty of time to spare. A wee bit of lunch and it was time to motor back to Chiang Mai ...


  • Well, you can't expect people to stay away frommodernity: it's a tourist attraction, and those people can have earn a leaving through this attraction.

    By Anonymous Thai News, at 7:18 a.m.  

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