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Where I was when I wrote this: On the Hong Kong Airport Express on my way to the airport and then onwards to Shanghai.
Our accommodations ended up being actually decent and better than I had envisioned but by no means 5* (yeah I know you think I’m a spoiled brat). As you saw from the photo from the other post this little wooden house/hut/shack/cabin was complete with mosquito net, thin foam sheet on top of the wood, a sleeping bag and cartoon character pillow. I was safe from the mosquito if I actually slept within the net but when I woke up in the middle of the night to pee I realized that my head was touching the net in certain places so yup I woke up with a bunch of bites. I didn’t sleep that great either because of constantly having to fight between being too hot and then too cold. On top of that you had to get used to the really loud ambient cricketing noise and random rooster calls in the middle of the night.
Breakfast with Nikorn and the Hosts
We were up by 7 and after a cold shower we had another homemade breakfast consisting of fried fish, congee, young bamboo and rice.
Buying Souvenirs to Support the Village
Once we were packed up a bunch of locals had gathered up at the bench to lay out their handmade wares. There wasn’t anything I particularly wanted but thought some of the stuff would make good gifts/souvenirs and if could help the community then even better. I picked up a little bag and two bracelets.
The Trek Back Down
This day’s trek wasn’t any easier than the other day and in fact felt even tougher. It was a combination of taking less breaks, slight rain which caused the surface to be slippery (fell on my ass too), extreme heat towards the bottom and a slight sense of the “are we there yet” syndrome because Nikorn insisted we were only 20 minutes away when we were nowhere close. I think we did another 5-6 hours on this day. We also bumped into a few other trekkers this time around which was neat but apparently all of them were going to the closer villages and weren’t doing nearly as much trekking as we were doing. Apparently what some of these treks go for 3 days and 2 nights is equivalent to the amount of trekking we did in 2 days and 1 night.
Despite the trek being harder I would say the way back down was way more scenic. Along the way we passed by several villages and farms, which was neat. The lunchtime waterfall area was a nice place to cool down.
During the trek Nikorn made this random comment about Jia looking like a “professional” because when he first watched Jia trekking his back was slouching or something versus I looked more like “sports man”. So apparently I don’t look very professional but I guess my hours at the gym paid off.
Towards the end of the trek Nikorn made it known that we were falling a bit behind schedule so we had to pick up our speed quite a bit. Once we reached the end we were picked up by this truck. We just hopped on the flatbed portion and just rode it free-style which was a relief because I was sweating like a pig at that point.
Phatawan Elephant Camp
When we arrived at the elephant camp we waited for an elephant to come around and then climbed up and hopped on the elephant. There was a young kid that directed the elephant and when he got in just hopped on his/her head. We went through this up and down route through the woods while we were bitten alive and hung on for dear life. Our guide got off at one point to take photos for us but other than that all he did was sit on the elephant’s head while doing this humping motion as if to massage its scalp and yelling strange commands. The ride was more terrifying than I ever thought it could be. We were not strapped down to the seat and only had the metal rails that made up the seat to hold on to. On the downhill it was literally like riding a rollercoaster and I could’ve easily fallen off if I had nothing to hold on to. It was also a bit sad to see the state that the elephants are in and how they are treated. All in all it was an interesting experience but probably one I wouldn’t do again. Its too bad we didn’t have enough time to do a day at an elephant sanctuary. Side note: Elephants poop big giant balls.
To wrap our trek we were picked up by another trek to be brought upstream where the bamboo rafts started. Now this I actually thoroughly enjoyed. The trip downstream was relaxing in the cool water that thinly sloshed over top the raft as the sun started to set. There were only a few baby rapids so it wasn’t exactly the exciting white water rapids but after a long day trek it was exactly what we needed. We even took alternating turns to help “steer” the raft at the back. And I loosely use the words “steer” because I think we did the exact opposite of what our real rafter was trying to do. I almost got flipped out of the raft because the big bamboo stick I was using got jammed in the rocks for a brief second.
Nikorn’s wife picked us at the bottom and no later than 5:30PM we were back at our hotel. It wouldn’t be the last time we would see Nikorn because he offered to drive us to the airport the next day which was amazing of him. On the ride home we tried to teach him the fine art of TripAdvisor and the need to have his own proper website. Hopefully he’ll have something set up by the time one of you guys want to go to Chiang Mai.
For the evening we were pretty exhausted but need to eat dinner so we walked around our nearby night market to check out the shops and eat a simple dinner at this seafood restaurant.
- For the trek I didn’t bring a change of shirts or shorts as I figured we’d just be nasty all the time. I did however bring another pair of underwear. I also brought a pair of swim trunks because I knew we were doing some waterfall for the day. I also brought my light running jacket in case of rain but the rain was barely anything and when I put it on it was way too hot. Other than that I didn’t bring anything else clothing wise.
- If you’re an animal person I wouldn’t really recommend the elephant ride. It’ll just make you depressed.
- Bamboo rafting is awesome.
- Early wake up (cockle doodle doo)
- Buy souvenirs from the locals
- Trek to lunch time spot near a waterfall
- Elephant ride
- Bamboo rafting
- Back to Le Meridien
- Walk around the night market + dinner
Check out the Next Day
Ready for the next day? Head over to Day 23 – Koh Samui – Sent Up To The Sky.
Curious what else I did on my trip to Asia? See the full itinerary and all 89 days.