Elephants, snakes and beer! Brian contributes his first adventure to Mountainbeering. Hopefully it’s the first of many:
$50 can buy a whole lot of adventure in Thailand. In addition to the 2 nights of accommodation and 7 (delicious) meals, the experiences gained from taking a Hill Tribe Trek in the Si Lanna National Park turned out to be one best investments I’ve ever made!
Thailand may be a little limited on its beer selection (2 Thai brands, 1 Lao, and Heiniken), but it’s certainly not short on ethnic diversity. Over 1 million people from displaced tribes throughout Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and China have taken refuge in the national forests of Thailand.
Visiting the tribal villages has turned into a major attraction in the northern regions of Thailand. I had some reservations about the voyeuristic nature of these pay-to-visit excursions, but was later reassured by the tribal members that the proceeds greatly increase their quality of life. They were grateful to be able to afford the necessary food and medicine that would be unattainable without this income.
Initially I was a little leery of the “touristy” inclusions on the trekking agenda. But I, along with our ragtag group of wandering backpackers, soon resigned to the guilty pleasures of our first roadside attraction. C’mon. Who doesn’t like an old fashioned snake show?
After watching in awe as a young girl of the Karen “Longneck” tribe wove me a beautiful scarf, I felt inspired to catch a beer photo. Unfortunately, I only had a CAN of Chang to enjoy in the Longneck village. My bad!
By midday, we started the real trekking. Roaming elephants, massive spiders, and giant millipedes lurked in the bush during the 3500ft accent to the Lahu village located at the summit. The panoramic views from the porch of our bamboo hut were a welcomed reward for our efforts. Time for another Chang!
The night in the village was one of the most inspirational experiences of my life. Great food, free-flowing Chang, some improv bottleneck on a five-string guitar, and plenty of interaction with the tribe members. Group participation as “the good doctor make medicine show” ensured that we remained socially lubricated throughout the night 😉
The hike down the following day was far from strenuous. But it was hazardous, as a few of my cohorts can attest to after tumbling down the slippery slopes. We broke for lunch and a swim at a waterfall along the way.
Camped out along a river on our second night. The morning entertainment was provided by our whitewater rafting guides as they played a friendly game of “takraw”. This is a popular game that’s a cross between volleyball and soccer. Losers do pushups.
Following the rafting trip, our trek was capped off with a leisurely elephant ride. Plenty of bananas were used to coerce the big fellas along the trail.
Although it consumed only 3 days of my month-long trip to SE Asia, this trekking adventure supplied a great number of life-long memories. If you find yourself in Northern Thailand, be sure to “splurge” on the bargain of a lifetime that is Hill Tribe Trekking!