Today was the day of the jungle trek that we had booked through our accommodation the Baan Bua Guesthouse…..which we had already rearranged once due to the weather…which resulted in a whole load of unlucky turns. What could possibly go wrong? I’d already killed my Galaxy Note 2 and Canon 7D camera. So we looked at the weather report on the internet for the day. Thunderstorms. Great. Judging by the previous storms we’d encountered in Chiang Rai, we were in for a treat! I looked out of the window and there was no rain. We were on to a good start. The tour guide “Bobby” met us at our guesthouse. It was just the three of us. The itinerary was to trek through the jungle, have some lunch with the jungle village people and walk to a waterfall on our return to the car where we then had a go in a hot spring. All in all, about 5 hours worth of trekking.
It was a 40 minute drive to “base camp”. On route we passed a police checkpoint but we sailed straight through. Bobby told us that the police only go into the cities and not the villages, as they will get attacked. How savage are these villagers? Should we be having lunch with them? Are WE going to be lunch? When Bobby stopped the car, we had a snack in a little “restaurant”. I don’t know what the food was but boy was it spicy. I gave up after the initial mouth burning but Stef went in for more. Pure mental. There’s no need for food to be that spicy. What’s the point? Your tongue cannot enjoy it because of the spice! I stuck with the sticky rice. We left and made our way to the entrance of the jungle. On the way, Bobby pulled out a big machete. This bloke is obviously hardcore and means business. I had a lot of respect for him at that moment…..then, he pulled out a slingshot and the respect quickly disappeared! He asked me if people used them in England. I told him it was only for children. He didn’t look happy. Why not insult a bloke who had a machete and was about to lead us into a jungle…..
Just before we turned off into the greenery, Bobby pointed up into the trees and to a big spider web. It had the most massive spider I have ever seen in it. It was probably the size of my hand. Bobby didn’t seem too worried about it, but he had to tell us that they were poisonous and where we were going, we’d possibly see more of them as well as venomous snakes. With my luck recently, I’d probably get bitten by both. Bobby started whacking around his machete making a path for us as he lead us in. 20 minutes in and it really started to sink in that this is a real jungle. 30 minutes in and then came the thunderstorm! Luckily, we both had macs in the bag and they quickly came out. It was raining as heavy as it had been the last few days. The thunder lasted 10 seconds at a time. This was no small storm.
The ground was starting to flood and little rivers were starting to flow on the path. We were in the middle of nowhere. Bobby then said that he was going to tell the villagers that we were on our way and to start getting lunch ready. How on earth was he going to do that? Carrier pigeon? Smoke signals? No, he pulled out his tablet and Skyped them! How come I can barely get reception in my own home next to the Crystal Palace Mast and Bobby AND the villagers can get full bars in the middle of a jungle!!!! With lunch on the go, we continued the trek. Bobby cut down two pieces of bamboo and made us walking sticks. Now we felt like real trekkers. I hit Stef a few times with it but that soon got boring.
Parts of the walk were absolutely amazing. The sight of the rain falling in front of the mountain backdrops was beautiful. Other parts, where we were on a very slippery 1-2 foot wide path with a steep hill one side and a 40-50 foot drop the other, were not as amazing….I took the rear as I was filming and taking photos and Stef and Bobby went off ahead out of sight. I could have easily fallen to my death. Not once did they check up on me! We got under some cover and Bobby made us two hats out of a big leaf. It did the job of keeping the water out but it did make us look like right twats though. He also made us a bamboo flute each. I couldn’t do it but Stef was good at blowing.
We made it to a small village made from bamboo huts. The odd chicken and pig were wandering around but no people. Again, Bobby and Stef made their way up the steep hill and I followed. A young kid came down the hill. He pointed to me and to my lovely hat. He said something to me, took it and ran off. I had just got mugged by a 10 year old! Maybe it was the village equivalent of a mobile phone snatch?
We trekked for a further hour. It was tough. The terrain was a state. The rain was heavy and was washing the ground away as we walked. It did not seem safe to me. Were we insured? Was he a real guide? At least he could Skype for help if something happened. We made it to the small village built into the mountain. The ground was clay and the house foundations were built onto that. Surely rain and clay don’t go. I don’t know how long they have before the houses fall down the mountain but I wish them well.
By this time both Stef and I were soaked. We could feel water sloshing around in our shoes and our trousers were drenched. We dried off while the villagers arranged our meal. Looking around, they had a DVD player. No doubt they had a 40” plasma and Sky TV in one of the huts as well! Out came the meal and it was massive – enough for four. I asked Bobby if he was going to join us but he said he was going to eat with the villagers. Were we the meal and they were just making sure we were stuffed with all sorts of vegetables for when they put us on the spit?
There was loads of veg but the most interesting side was the snake soup – bits of snake with some green pumpkin floating around. It was really nice. It didn’t have skin on though, just chunks of meat.
We had a few photos taken around the huts and one where we were both standing on a balcony. 100-foot drop and we’re on a bamboo ledge “secured” in the clay.
A little bit drier, we left and made our way to the waterfall. After about 15 minutes, we turned a corner and you could hear a roaring sound. It was so loud. Due to the storm, the waterfall had turned into a beast with all the extra water being diverted to it. We saw a rickety bamboo bridge going over it. Bobby said something but the sound from the waterfall was so loud, we couldn’t hear. I assumed it was something like “If it wasn’t so rough, we’d be going over it”. But no, over we went. With every step, the bridge moved. The wind generated from the water didn’t help either. If this bridge was to collapse, we were dead. No two ways about it. You’ll see by the video that I took as to how rough it was. Anyway, we didn’t die and trekked for a while longer.
Walking through rivers, over trees and through bushes. It was no easy task. The rain stopped and the sun came out. It turned quite nice. We walked through a few tea plantations and a few more villages. It was a good walk and we covered about 10 miles in all and NOT one part was flat.
We made it to the natural hot spring for a much-deserved bath. The trek was fantastic and one of the best days so far of this trip.