Trekking through the villages around Chiang Mai.
Friday 1 January 1999 - Sunday 17 January 1999
This was my first trip to Thailand since 1992 and consisted of a hike around several villages near Chiang Mai. The trip was organised by Peregrine, an Australian company.
Friday 1 - Monday 4 January - The first four days were in Bangkok, mainly looking around the bits I had not been to previously, especially China town and down by the river.
Tuesday 5 January - Flight up to Chiang Mai. I was met at airport by tour leader. After dinner with the group, we walked around the night market.
Wednesday 6 January - We drove to Pai for lunch and then onto Nam Rin where we met our porters for the trip. They are Sonboon and Berone, great cooks, bottle washers, porters and all round nice guys. We offloaded our packs and walked for two hours to Mae U Mong, a White Karen village.
The Hilton at Mae U Mong.
The wildlife directly under our beds.
Shona and Berone organising dinner.
Thursday 7 January - A long walk to Bang Pah Mon (Red Lahu), total of 6 1/2 hours over rice paddies, hills etc. It is very nice village, staying with local family. After another great dinner we were then entertained by local children singing. Needless to say that our singing was put to shame by the kids.
Lunch on the trail, with John (leader), Somboon and Rula.
The village of Bang Pah Mon.
The local concert party.
Friday 8 January - A three hour walk to lunch stop and then a three hour elephant trek to Muang Paem. This is another interesting village (White Karen) and it seemed quite prosperous. The market was open (in fact they came to us) and so we all bought local stuff.
Rest stop. Nice hats.
Sandi, elephant number 3, and the mahout.
The back end of an elephant.
Muang Paem village.
Our very own local market.
Modelling our local produce.
Saturday 9 January - No packs today! We walked along the river until got to Tham Lod caves and lunch. Afternoon walk through forest to Ban Bo Klae, a much poorer Black Lahu village. It does however have great scenery as it is built along a ridge top. The evening entertainment was cards, whiskey, a talent contest in Seppong (town just up the road) and local villagers.
The entrance to Tham Lot Caves.
The scenery from the village.
The house owner on the flute and Berone.
The house owner and Berone.
Sunday 10 January - We drove to Tham La sacred fish cave from which we rafted down the river for a while, nice and relaxing. Lunch in Mae Hong Son. We stayed at Golden Pai Resort which is just out of town. It had a very inviting swimming pool after first shower for several days.
Top row, from left: the wife, Rula, Shona, the husband, Narelle, Sandi. Front row, from left: me, Paul, the son.
Cocktails by the pool. Nice.
Monday 11 January - A morning tour of Mae Hong Son. An afternoon flight back to Chiang Mai. Dinner at night market where I bought a few bits and bobs.
Mae Hong Son under the mist.
Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu in Mae Hong Son.
One of the many statues of Buddha at Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu.
The monastery at Wat Phra Tat Doi Mong Ku.
A gathering of monks at the monastery.
Tuesday 12 - Saturday 16 January - I flew back to Bangkok for a bit more sightseeing and shopping.
Light traffic on Thanon Ratchadamri in Bangkok.
Summary - This was a great trip. The walking part fitted beautifully into a two week holiday away from the cold and snow in London. We had a small group, just six in total. Staying in the villages was great fun (except for the bloody roosters at 4:00am!). The tour leader, Boonchuay (aka John) was very good and two porters were great cooks and their ability to carry heavy packs wearing only jandals was amazing.