Twenty years from now you will be more dissapointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover

Sunday, April 11, 2010

i am mogli.

Lying sprawled across 4 seats in the Bangkok airport I am going to attempt to recount my last crazy week in Thailand. At the same time I am going to try and not make it a length that it novel-worthy so that you don’t want to kill me by the time it’s done…

After my first ever ride on a night train -or any train for that matter; which included a delicious Thai meal (although microwaved), as well as a bathroom that was home to an extremely large window (passers-by for sure saw me taking care of my biz), and an extremely irritable attendant (wore a mask and grunted most of the time), we arrived in the pride and joy of northern Thailand known as Chiang Mai.
Although the train was an hour late, our guide stood at the “meeting point” holding a sign with Liz Beast’s name on it. The two of us, along with a new friend we had made on the train by the name of Carmen (from Idaho), headed with the guide (alias “Bang”) to Buddy Tours to prepare for what may have been the most intense, eye-opening three days of my life.

We were given a small sack in which we had to pack everything we would need for the ass-kicking that was about to begin, and told that we had ten minutes before we needed to leave. After picking up the rest of the crew (Mike and Chris, from Vancouver and England respectively), we stopped at a market to pick up some last minute must-haves: bug spray, sunscreen, water, and booze. The truck then took us to a temple (this is where the ass-kicking began with 5 minutes worth or stair-climbing to reach the top), and to a waterfall where we swam and ate lunch. At this point I was loving this “jungle trek”, getting driven from point A to point B, and still taking in Chiang Mai and all of its beauty, I was clearly living the life. It would be about 10 minutes after getting into the truck after that last waterfall that I would really eat my words.

The truck stops and we are instructed to grab our stuff and get out, a small trail is visible to the right, and I begin to think that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all… But it’s too late now, turning back was literally not an option. Off we go on about an hour hike until we reach our first waterfall (sidenote: pretty much every stop on this trek was a waterfall), which came as a nice surprise as we all needed a cool down. It was only when we started changing into our bathing suits that I realized that God really does hate me; mother nature had decided to pay me a special visit, almost two weeks early, in the middle of the jungle. Shoot me now. Clearly I wasn’t prepared for this and almost started to cry, I was NOT about to live like my ancestors, no fricken way. Luckily, our new found friend Carmen WAS prepared, my guardian angel, I’m sure of it.

The rest of the day’s events consisted of hiking, sweating, being sure that I was going to die, sending up prayers to the god that I had previously cursed, and after surviving what I would have previously considered hell- being convinced that I was now the queen of the jungle. We had stopped every one or two hours to swim and eat, but other than that it was physical exertion 101.

We spent the night in a “camp”. This camp had no electricity, no running water, and was run by some thai guys that used a cell phone in a tin cup for music. We slept in a bamboo hut, with a roof made of banana leaves; no mattress, no legit pillow, just a mosquito net and an itchy blanket. This place made the camp that played home on our second night seem like a 5 star Hilton, mostly because we had a mattress, AND a roof… This place had it all.

Sidenote: I bet aloud that Carmen would have to break out her first aid kit in the first hour of the trek. Surprise surprise, Kendall falls and gashes her knee within the first ten minutes. Damn my betting ways.

I almost admitted defeat on the second day. At one point we climbed literally straight up for about 300m, and I once again almost started to cry. This was probably the complaining high point of the trek, during which Liz Beast was trying her very best to motivate me by telling me “mind over matter”, and “one step at a time”; while I was silently telling her to shut up and just let me die here, it would be far less painful.

Somehow I managed to make it to the top, and I think every part of my body imaginable was sweatier than anything I had ever thought possible. It was at this point that I started counting down the hours until we would be back on solid, paved ground in Chiang Mai. I figured it to be about 30. Fml.

The second day also played host to the day when both Liz and I would bail, hard. I was actually pretty impressed that these were the only major falls we took, as there were at least 20 instances when I almost died, I’m convinced that had it not been for the past month and a half of core training, I would be a mangled mess somewhere in the jungle, still.

Our camp on the second night seemed like a 5 star resort when we arrived (as mentioned above), it had a shower (shower head attached to the side of a tree), an actual toilet (that flushed), and a place where you could get massages (2 ladies from the camp that chatted in Thai the whole time and hugged us like it was their job at the end). I am convinced that the “pillows” at this place were full of sand, as I have never woken up in so much pain, I would describe the pain as someone repeatedly stabbing an oversized steak knife into the base of my scull, resulting in sharrrrrp pains shooting every which way down my neck and shoulders… But hey, at least the place had a roof.

I would also like to sidenote that both of our tourguides got relatively/extremely inebriated off of moonshined rice whiskey both the first and second night. Based on the way I was handling the “trekking” without any alcohol in my system, drinking even the tiniest amount of alcohol did not even register as an option. The small bottle of Sangsom rum that was weighing down my pack stayed full the entire time. Mom will be proud.

The third day felt like a fricken vacation after the previous two. We hiked only for a total of an hour with our first destination being a waterfall, at which some annoying European child couldn’t wait 5 seconds for me to finish climbing up from the river before barreling down the rocks and making me slip and scrape up my leg. I then decided to remark loud enough so that the stupid kid’s mom could definitely hear “I don’t understand why people can’t just WAIT until we’re at the top, WHERE are this kid’s parent’s?!”. At this point in the trip I was a force to be reckoned with, I was dirty, in pain, and at my wit’s end; today was NOT the day for this little punk to cross me.

The elephant riding was neat, getting repeatedly sneezed on by the large dirty mammal was not. It was hot, and we were sweating to the point that by the time we got off the elephant it looked like I had been sitting in a puddle of water, sick but true. Bamboo rafting was the best possible way to end our trip. We sat on a raft in our bathing suits while a guy paddled us down the river. This happened to be right before the water festival was about to take place, so people splashed us while yelling ‘happy new year’ the entire ride. At first I was bitter about the splashing and was like “okay, we’re good, thanks” (those of you who know me well can more than likely properly imagine me saying this), but eventually got into it and started splashing everyone (especially little kids) before they even splashed me, suckerrrrrrs. I felt kind of bad splashing some of the kids, like I was at the neighborhood pool and their parents were going to come yell at me asking me what the hell my problem was, but the opposite turned out to be true, the parents laughed and smiled and splashed them too. I started to really like this place. I was in the jungle, and I was home.

No comments:

Post a Comment