A trek in the hills of northern Thailand. What a wild five days it’s been! Leaving our home in Ban Apa, we started our four day trek on October 6th. Our first destination was Ya Fu village. On our first day, we had a one and a half hour trek to the first stop at a waterfall where we got a delicious lunch wrapped in bamboo leaves. Paulina was a little less hungry than the rest of us after swallowing a bug within the first hour of the trek. After a much needed break, we started back up on the final leg of the trek to the first village. Hiking through beautiful rice fields up and down mountains we were exhausted five minutes in. Half way through, Madi took a tumble into the rice fields leaving her soaking wet but still with a smile on her face. We trekked and trekked until we made it to the top of the final hill where we were met with an incredible view of Chiang Rai. After taking in the beautiful landscape we made our way down the hill to Ya Fu village. To end our first long day of trekking we had a group meeting with our local guides who taught us about differences between the hill tribe people and their relationship to Animism. The following day, we came face to face with our longest trek yet: a six hour hike through the jungle. Halfway through, the group stopped to have lunch and enjoyed shaved ice at a shop in a local village. While making a way to the second village, one of our guides stopped to cut down bamboo, searching inside the bamboo. When he handed us the bamboo piece we found a plethora of bamboo worms! Sammi really enjoyed wrangling the bamboo worms into a bamboo cup to save for cooking and eating later that evening.
Upon our arrival in Ja Ka, we were greeted by the village leader and his family. Everyone was in need of a little R and R. After a group dinner we had a meeting with the leader where Claire C asked many meaningful questions about local culture.
After a long nights rest, we were excited to learn about and participate in traditional Ja Ka farming. We learned about the many uses of bamboo and cooked an entire meal using the very useful plant! We were also taught the proper way to make bamboo spoons! Joe and Sammi killed chickens for our lunch while Claire C, Kate, and Bryley plucked them. It made for a very delicious meal! Later that day we split into three groups to learn how to basket weave, fabric weave, and make bamboo cups. To end our day, we watched to the sunset along a beautiful trail in solitude to reflect on the last four weeks in Thailand. Audrey thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful moments of watching the sun go down.
The next day, at four in the morning, we got up to experience a pig sacrifice which was then served for breakfast. The sacrifice signified the end of the rice harvest season. Once it was time to say goodbye, we began our journey downward to longtail boats to take us to our next destination.
When we arrived at the hotel, we said farewell to Manop, Kasa, and Akong; our local guides turned friends.
Back in the city of Chiang Rai, Kylie and Claire G had their first experience in a tuk-tuk, a traditional and convenient mode of transportation in Thailand. For our last day in Chiang Rai, we were lucky enough to travel to an elephant sanctuary run by locals from the Karen tribe. We got to feed, wash, walk, and observe the elephants in a humane way. Elephants, being such smart animals, can understand Thai when we communicate with them.
We are so excited for our upcoming adventures including the Sahanian farm! Stay tuned!
Madi, Paulina, and Harrison