For the last two days I have been trekking through the jungle outside of Pai and all I have to show for it is two bruises, two craps, a tare in my pants and four new friends.
Our guys were two Karen men, Preecha and Tein who work for Back Trex. (The Karen are the tribesmen of northern Thailand known for the women with elongated necks with gold rings.) They were both fantastic and very patient with me as I attempted to keep up with the very fit German couple (Anna and Johannes) who have been traveling for more than 3 years and the French/Dutch couple (Remi and Wietske).
We started our trek yesterday morning at 9am with a winding drive through the mostly burnt country side. (It seems that every year the Thai burn the forest and field to help their plant grow.) We were dropped off at the trail head and that began the first 2 hours of hiking. Up steep single track trails and down small paths covered in slippery tree leaves. Anna became a pro faller and certainly got the gold metal that day and I hit my knee hard on a tree. At first the hiking was great, the weather was cool and the views, although a bit chard, were beautiful, but as the day warmed up, I started to feel a bit light headed and had fuzzy vision. Evidently, I am not made for the heat. We stopped for lunch with a great over look and then kept climbing. At the next stop, just before we headed down the other side of the mountain the guide took my pack because I was not looking well and I was holding up the group. Then down we went and narrow paths and every few minuets someone would slip or we would stop. Our guides kept saying “slowly, Slowly”. At the river I drenched my over-shirt and took some emergen-C.
Two hours later, at 6pm, we made it to the waterfall. It was massive, cascading down two rock faces in to small pools at the bottom where we rinsed in the freezing cold water to get the sweat and dust off. Our guides set up an amazing camp made only of bamboo and banana leaves, then fixed us the best dinner any of us had had in Thailand using only Bamboo to cook with. They can make anything out of Bamboo; bowls, plates, tea pot, rice cooker, spoons, knives and chop sticks. (Pictures to be posted soon) I am convinced that given enough time they could build a plane out of bamboo.
We slept like the dead in the bamboo shack they built for us and the next morning we hiked to the Karen village where Preecha grew up. Day two was much hotter but as soon as we got into the shade of the jungle and there was a small breeze I felt better. We had lunch in his village, played with the dogs and hiked up to a limestone (maybe ?) cave. Just as we left the village Anna and I were chatting and the guide found a massive mushroom and in my excitement to see it, I slid and fell, ripping my pants and scrapping my knee and ankle. Anna, yesterdays gold metal faller, gave me the award for the most painful fall.
Thank god the last hour of our hike were easy on a nice road wide road with rolling hills. When we got back all dashed to the showers and met up for a delicious meal at Divine Healing Center and Cafe