Trekking the Northern Hill Tribes

Here is our 3rd instalment from Mia our Thailand Adventure competition winner, this is how she got on in trekking the Northern Hill Tribes of Thailand…

If you like exploring by yourself and having a laugh with a group of mates, then this is the one for you! This was the best part of my tour and I wouldn’t change any of it (except, spoiler alert, maybe the face planting on the middle of a bamboo raft bit!).

We jumped on our air con-less pickup truck and headed up into the jungle. First stop on the way is to Mork-Fa Waterfall. A welcomed cool down after the hot and sweaty pickup truck! Ooh-la-la (one of our guides – yes that was their name!) convinced us that there were snakes in waterfall, but we embraced our inner Crocodile Dundee and dove in anyway!

After a quick lunch at a local café, with the most delicious Thai food and a short drive up to the drop off point and it was time to head off. Coated in about four cans of bug spray and armed with more, I didn’t know who was more nervous, the bugs or us! This first trek lasts about 3 to 4 hours and takes you through some of the most beautiful jungle in Thailand. After puffing up hills, jumping over trees and swinging from vines, we got to our first village.

After the initial thought of “YAY CIVILISATION”, you then really begin to take in your surroundings, and they are so surreal. The Karen Tribe, the local village, are in the 1.2{8105bc8a7da0e4ee2985a05e217cd0e1bef95b551bf8bafd62a449e444182173} of Thailand who worship Christianity, so the first thing you notice is the large, but simple, church; it is the largest building in the village. The second thing you take in is all the animals. Cows, pigs, chickens and goats to name a few, all of which live underneath each wooden hut, set on stilts.

Who would have thought that the best fried chicken I would ever have was in this village, made by Ooh-la-la?! Cooked on fire pits in the huts, the food on this trip was without a doubt the best I’ve ever eaten in Thailand. After a night by the fire, it’s time to head to bed ready for an early morning start.

Day 2 is a longer trek through paddy fields. Armed with more water than you can carry it’s a 10k walk ahead (no one told me that the markings on the bottle rub off in the heat so my arms look like I have Thai writing really badly tattooed on them). Sweating absolute buckets, the lunch break was so needed. The delicious food and quick swim in the river with the local children were enough to get you ready for the rest of the afternoon’s trek. Our guide, mentioning no names *cough cough Sammy*, tried his hardest to find a tarantula to scare us into moving a bit faster! When we finally arrived at the next village, we were greeted with a similar set up to the night before. Basically you sleep in a massive room in huts with mattresses on the floor and mosquito nets to keep you protected overnight (although my sister swears vitamin B12 tablets make you invincible against the little blood suckers).

There weren’t any showers so by this point we were feeling pretty grim, so it was down to the river for a wash. Word of warning if you lie down to wash your hair in the river, get someone to hold your feet or you’ll end up drifting down the river. We sat out by the fire to dry out and were joined by Sammy and Ooh-la-la. A few Chang beers later it’s time for some
games… ping-pong-pang Sammy style, with a few dodgy rules thrown in it basically ends in everyone coated in charcoal having had a great evening!

Day 3 was the last day in the jungle and nobody was looking forward to leaving (although the shower back in Chiang Mai was sounding very inviting!). The last day was a full day rafting and my first thought when looking at the raft was that’s not going to hold everyone and our bags! Luckily, Ooh-la-la’s craftsmanship was top notch and we took off without any glitches.

But it didn’t last long! It was the dry season, which meant that the river was super shallow, so getting over the rocks was proving rather tricky, hence face planting as we hit a rock. We even had to abandon ship at one point but luckily Ooh-la-la came to the rescue!

Arriving back on dry land with huge bowls of Pad Thai in front of us, left everyone feeling a little bit nostalgic and wishing they could start the three days all over again. It was trek filled with a lot of sweat, sun cream, laughs and memories that I will never forget.

Sounds like an awesome trek! Take a look at some of Mia’s other blogs on Thailand and discover what this incredible country is all about.