Basic Mountain Accommodation

Posted by: valerina

May 2nd, 2011 >> Chang Mai, Thailand

The hotel breakfast at the Imperial Ping Hotel was INCREDIBLE. They had just about every breakfast food you could possible think of, and it was all made from scratch. The croissants were especially phenemonal and I ate at least four or five every morning we had breakfast there. All the breakfasts we had in Thailand featured an amazing array of fresh fruit and this one was no exception. Lindsay and I stuck together for most of the trip and that first morning we decided to have breakfast with Danielle and Anneka, two girls on the trip who were studying in New Zealand. After gorging ourselves on breakfast we loaded back into the fleet of red trucks with our backpacks packed for an overnight stay in a traditional mountain village.

We rode in the red trucks for about 45 minutes until we reached a small market on the outskirts of town. We were told to purchase whatever we wanted, but informed that in would be in our best interest to invest in some skeletene, which is a highly effective and potent bug spray, and some tiger balm, which is what you use should the bug spray fail.

Its a miracle cure in a very tiny jar

The pamphlet inside the little hexagonal box that the tiger balm comes in says that it is effective for the treatment of headaches, bug bites, itches, scratches, cough, stomach ache, nasal congestion. It contains menthol, camphor, dementholised mint oil, cajuput oil, clove bud oil, and cassia oil. This stuff WORKS. Its phenomenal, I need to find the parent company that makes it and buy stock in it because it is incredible. A tiny jar of tiger balm miracle cream set me back about 20 baht, or slightly less than a dollar, and for all the itchy bug bites it cured me of, it was worth that and so much more. I also purchased some bottled water at the market since no body in Thailand drinks tap water, because if you do you will get sick. All water consumed for drinking or cooking purposes in Thailand has to be purified as the tap water is not clean enough for drinking.

After a few minutes at the market we loaded back into the red truck caravan and rode another hour up a windy and steep mountain road. There were about eight of us in the truck I was riding in, including one of the local Thai guides who was to stay with us for the duration of our time in Chiang Mai. All the way up the mountain the eight of us in the truck asked him questions about Thailand. He was more than willing to answer all of our inquiries and I learned some interesting things. Firstly, being a lawyer in Thailand is considered a bad profession. The Thai people are very forgiving and generous and an attitude of service and caring are built into the culture, so it is not in their nature to want to see damages for someone if they have been wronged, but rather to forgive. Therefore lawyers don’t find much work in Thailand, so to be a lawyer is to be poor. Almost all Thai people have nicknames. Our guide was born very early in the morning so his nickname is rooster. There are about a dozen or so nicknames that are used for everyone, so there end up being a lot of people with the same nicknames. Also- little moped type scooters and motorcycles are very popular in Thailand. They are easy to park and cheap to own so most people have them instead of cars. We saw all sorts of them all over the cities, and it isn’t uncommon to see a mom riding one with one kid riding on the back and one kid riding on the front, and nobody in a helmet.

Me, Anneka and Danielle riding up to the village

Once we had arrived at the base of the trail we were going to hike we all loaded out and had a quick boxed lunch of pad thai noodles and vegetables by a waterfall.

Where we ate lunch

After lunch we started our two and a half hour hike through the mountains to reach our “basic” mountain accommodation for the evening. The views on the hike were incredible, we saw all manner of wildlife, rice paddies, burned hillsides, waterfalls, and jagged mountains. It was hot outside but every once in a while it would sprinkle a little rain on us to keep us cool. The hike took us over mountains and through valleys, over fallen trees and through lots of mud. We were looking and smelling pretty rough by the time we reached the village.

The back of Lindsays head, hiking through the mountains

Water Buffalo!

hiking

Everybody has a water buffalo, yours is fast and mine is slow but everybody hasssss a water buffalo!

With a group of 45 it takes a while to hike anywhere, we stretch out quite far

Once we arrived at the village we were shown where we would be sleeping, which was a basic wooden cabin with straw mats on the floor and blankets. There were two cabins that housed twelve people and one that housed ten. The cabin that Linsday and I picked was all girls and the furthest away from the main building of the village where all the cooking and food preparation took place. We all got settled and most of the girls rubbed down our legs with baby wipes to remove the caked on mud from the hike and then reapplied bug spray. We were then given a tour of the village and surrounding hillside. We got to see the local school, church, and soccer fields. As the sun was going down and things were cooling down a bit a couple of the people from our group got into a game of pick up soccer with some of the village kids. All of the village kids played barefoot, which a couple of the kids in our group tried to do, but its a bit more hardcore than it looks.

our "basic" accommodation

mountain village

Where we slept for the night. On the floor.

All over the village were all manner of farm animal. There were dogs, pigs, cows, cats, chickens, and roosters. There were a lot of dogs and they were very skittish around people and ran away when we tried to pet them to the dismay of many of the girls. This did not however prevent us from naming them, and one of the smaller brown and black dogs we affectionately dubbed “Tim Tam.” The villagers prepared dinner for us in the most traditional way, as in some of the chickens we saw running around when we first arrived became dinner. We watched one of the older men in the village cut the head off and gut a chicken to make soup. Times like these I remember why I’m a vegetarian, but even if you are a meat eater, you can’t get any more free range and organic than that. After a dinner of curry soup, rice and of course more fresh fruit a camp fire was lit and the village children came out to sing and dance with us. They taught us a traditional childrens song about fruit and we taught them “head and shoulders.” As it got darker out we were given thai fire balloons to light and send out into the night sky. It is a Thai tradition to light them as a group and as you wait for the fire lamp to heat up all the air inside the lantern and for it to rise everyone makes a wish, and then you let it go.

Lighting the lanterns, making our wishes

Make a Wish!

Tim Tam!

Piggie!

The view

While we were all hanging out and conversing with the villagers some of the guys partook in the local village vices, tobacco rolled in banana leaves and rice moonshine. There was also Thai beer for purchase and a few people partook in that as well. Most Thai beers are wheat beers and they tend to be 7-8% alcohol, which is a bit higher than most American beers. These indulgences hit some of the boys a bit hard and one of them ended the night by throwing up all over the basic mountain accommodation he was supposed to share with twelve other people, and when you are sleeping on the floor, there isn’t really much of anywhere else for the puke to go, so on top of being sweaty and smelly there was now the natural musk of vomit in the air. But it also meant that nobody was sleeping next to him that night, he had plenty of room to spread out. Lucky for me Lindsay and I had opted to sleep in the all girls cabin which had gone to sleep fairly early and without incident. The night was long and dark, and the stars were many and my dreams were of the shower I would have the next day.

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