Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Northwest Thailand Hill Tribe Eco-Trek

In the Chiang Mai area there are lots of treks you can do into the undeveloped and rural areas in northwest Thailand. Most of the tours involve some kind of interaction with elephants and visiting some villages. We went with a two-day trip where we would be able to spend the night in a village and mingle with the laid-back country folk.

The first part of our trip involved an hour or so of elephant riding. They grouped us by twos and threw us on the backs of elephants with a guide sitting on the broad head of the elephant. For the most part, the elephants barely seemed to notice our presence and they would wander around eating plants as they wished. The elephant we rode was the only male and he definitely seemed to have a mind of his own, venturing off the established path to get a choice plant that caught his eye. It was all a bit touristy, but still quite a bit of fun.

 Elephant Camp

How to Board an Elephant


The Proper Way to Ride an Elephant

Our Elephant

After the elephant ride, we hiked up into the hills and through the jungle to the Lahu village. Our two Thai guides had westernized names, specifically Woody Woodpecker and Johnny Walker. Despite such original names, they were really great guides and provided interesting information about Thai village life.

Jungle and Mountains

Profile of the Legendary Johnny Walker

Hill Tribe Worker

Arriving at Lahu Village

After arriving in the village, we spent the evening meeting several of the villagers, eating a homemade meal, and playing games with all the little kids running around. This was the beginning of many chances on our trip to meet a lot of friendly people in small villages. We liked to show the kids how our cameras worked, videos and pictures from earlier times on our trips, and teach them games. They were all curious to learn and seemed to really enjoy it. We also walked around the village being tourists and snapping pictures of all the beautiful countryside and village scenes. There are too many interesting pictures to post all of them here, so check out the picasa link at the end to see more pictures.

Our Sleeping Quarters with Mosquito Nets

Preparing Dinner

Villagers Keeping Us Company

View from Village

Huts on Hillside

Lone Hut with Great View

 Flowers in Village

Solar Panels! 

Old Woman Smoking Stogy and Helping Slice Up Tree

The Best Way to Bathe a Baby

 Kids Up to No Good

Our Trekking Group of Dutch, Turkish, Norwegian, French, and American People

Sunset Over Valley 

Johnny Walker Managing Dinner Preparations

After dinner, all the kids from the village did a performance of village songs. After they sang, they asked our trekking group to sing a song for the kids. Someone suggested doing the Macarena, which somehow ended up being a huge hit and proving that the song has universal appeal.

Kids Singing

The next day, we hiked out of the hills, stopping at a waterfall along the way. We also did some "whitewater" rafting down a pretty calm stretch of river.

Fog in the Morning 

Wes with Bananas

Playing in Waterfall 

Morning Shower

After hiking out, our trek was done, as was our stay in Thailand. The next day we headed off for Laos, so stay tuned for that.

For more pictures, see: http://picasaweb.google.com/wallred10/HillTribeEcoTrek02