20 June 2010

Hill Tribe Trek Day 3 – Bamboo Rafting

"How can you explain that you need to know that the trees are still there, and the hills and the sky?  Anyone knows they are.  How can you say it is time your pulse responded to another rhythm, the rhythm of the d ay and the season instead of the hour and the minute?  No, you cannot explain.  So you walk."  Source Unknown


We are rudely awoken on Day 3 of the Hill Tribe Trek by the village rooster.  Honestly..it’s only 4 in the morning.  What is he thinking??

It is an exciting day for me and brings with it a new challenge.  We have the option of either rafting down the river or trekking the 5 hours back to our pick up point for the long drive back to Chiang Mai.  The guides are hoping we will all choose the rafting option even though it is an optional activity.  Both Emily and Helen are not sure about the whole rafting thing..but after considering the only other option available..(Hobson’s Choice as far as they are concerned :) )they throw their hats in the ring as well!   Bamboo rafting here we come..

The village headman (or someone who appears to be him) sees us off.  I am not sure if he wants to wish us well or just make sure we leave :) ! 

We are preceded by another group who had obviously also spent the night somewhere in this village.  We watch them take off…this might not be as difficult as we thought…

P6170236 P6170244Our gear is piled on a bamboo tripod that sticks up in front.  One person gets to hold on to that while the rest either balance or sit in single file so as to not rock the boat..or the bamboo raft to be precise.  

We pose for pictures..there is a lot of nervous laughter or is that joyous anticipation of what this day might bring..

Intrepid_Thailand-16 Our valuables are in a dry bag and our life vests strapped on.  The river is not too high so I don’t think we need to worry.

We coast past water buffalo having their morning soak…and enjoy the beauty around us.


We have about 4 hours of rafting ahead of us so Em and I decide we want to do this seated.  Not P6170243such a great idea!  Before long our bums are wet & sore and after trying a number of positions..we decide to raft standing up!   

However, there a number of rapids on this river and negotiating them can be tricky.  We need to sit down and hold on when going through these narrower parts of the river.  Our guides are experienced and take them on with the ease of an old pro.

We play games to while away the time.  I surprise myself by digging into the recesses of my brain and recalling names of famous people I didn’t even know I knew about.   Places are easier..we are all travellers and we’ve been lots of places….I stump them with the names of Sri Lankan villages no one but me has heard of. 

P6170248Soon it is time for a tea break.  We stop for chips and coke at a little bank side stop and are instantly charmed by the hill tribe woman and child at the counter.

It is definitely another Kodak moment and they are both happy to oblige.  We are their only paying customers after all!


Our day comes to an end as the rain begins to fall down lightly on our hot and sweaty bodies.   We welcome the change,soaking it all in and step off the raft having survived bamboo rafting!  Boy..our ancestors had it tough. 

Over lunch I buy a little souvenir bracelet from the hill tribe woman all dressed up for the occasion.  The trek has definitely been one of my  South East Asia highlights and these memories will surely be replayed over and over again in my mind for many years to come.


"You need special shoes for hiking - and a bit of a special soul as well."
-   Emme Woodhull-Bäche

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