Day 7 – Thai Jungle – Tuesday March 8th 2011
The first night sleeping on solid bamboo was tough. It was surprisingly cold at night considering the intense heat of the day. I woke up hanging out of the mosquito net. I’m assured that there’s no Malaria risk here.
Stacking One Up On The Rim
My morning poo was one of my first experiences of a squat toilet. I successfully aimed a few test nuggets down the hole and was feeling confident. I let it all out, and after I finished, looked back to see that I had stacked it all up on the edge of the hole. I had to find a twig to prod it down.
Feeling refreshed, it was now time for breakfast. Eggs on toast and black coffee. Perfect start to the day.
We had a gentle walk out from the village and made our way to a main road. There was a truck waiting for us with a big crane and bamboo rafts on the back. We had to jump on the back with the rafts and Frank sat on the crane arm. Once we got going the crane was swinging wildly from side to side so we were all struggling to keep our balance, and stop Frank from flying off the truck.
Luckily it was only a short drive before we reached the elephant camp. We were put onto rafts and were paddled slowly down the river by a guide. It was really calm and quiet. A nice way to relax after trekking.
Next was our elephant ride. We didn’t really know how this worked so were shocked to see the elephant trainers (mahouts) using metal picks to control the elephants. It didn’t seem right, however much they say it’s humane. If it didn’t hurt the elephant then it wouldn’t work to control them. The ride couldn’t finish quickly enough and we all made a pact to do something to offset our involvement in the use of these elephants like this.
We had a buffet lunch of curry, rice, noodles, vegetables and fruit and were getting ready for the afternoon trek. They decided that it was too hot in the middle of the day to trek but said we could swim in the river if we wanted. Nic and Frank went into the water, but I saw elephant turds floating down it so rested in the shade instead. I watched from the balcony as they washed a baby elephant in the river.
When they came out of the river we all watched a slightly older elephant being trained. It had its head held underwater, was hit with spikes and generally didn’t seem to get treated too well.
At around 2pm we finally set off for the next village. It was uphill and probably near 40°c. After half an hour of walking I looked round and Chick was nowhere to be seen. I went back for her and she had been sick and couldn’t carry on. I stayed with Chick and Nic had to run back up the hill to find the rest of the group. They were debating leaving us but reluctantly turned back and we took a slightly less strenuous route alongside a road. I’m not sure how much longer any of us could have walked in that sort of heat, so it was probably for the best.
The second village was much smaller than the first, with no craft stalls or long-necks. Our early arrival meant we were the first group into the camp. They had cleverly diverted some of the river into a rock pool which we could use for a chilly bath.
Frank and I played around with an old guitar and some drums whilst the girls helped with cooking in one of the huts.
James, James and James
The other group arrived in the evening and included three guys named James, some French guys and a Spanish couple. One James (Jay) looked and spoke exactly like Russell Brand. He was an aspiring writer and brilliant conversationalist. He warned us how Vietnam is bad for scams and Australia is really expensive.
After dinner we got to try a taste of river snake. It tasted like fishy chicken and had only the smallest slither of meat along its back. There was also the option of deep fried insects, but Frank was the only one mad enough to eat one.
That evening Abba tried to deal us some drugs from the Burmese border, and some of the other girls in our group took him up on the offer. The night was beautifully clear, but despite watching the sky for hours I didn’t see a single shooting star.