Trekking, tribes and tales

Since our last post over 2 weeks ago (sorry, just haven’t been able to find the time) we’ve gone from being 30 metres under the sea to over 800 metres above it in the hills of Doi Inthanon… And in the meantime travelled some 700 miles north across Thailand.

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To properly recapture the adventures over the last 2 weeks in one post would be fool hardy, so instead I’ll just provide the Cliff notes (haha)!
Koh Chang – diving, diving and more diving… We might actually be getting the hang of it;
Bangkok – an immersion into the frenzy of Chinese New Year… We even saw the Queen… Apparently;
Ayutthaya – a torrent of temples but not yet overloaded, just excited to see more;
Sleeper train – an unforgettable experience… Although not much sleep;
And now Chiang Mai

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Chiang Mai was our first chance to do a proper trek – 3 days trekking with 2 nights spent in bamboo huts in the mountains with the indigenous Karen people. From start to finish it has been a remarkable experience… Except for maybe the car journeys… Which guarantee to leave all passengers in dying need of massages upon their return to modern civilisation!

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Over the last 3 days we have ridden on elephants, walked through stunning scenery, safely navigated rapids on bamboo rafts and been a part of a way of life unlike any I’ve experienced before.

But as always, the most rewarding experience has even been the people. Both our fellow intrepid trekkers and the Karen people themselves, who were kind, welcoming, curious about us and eager to show us their way of life.

Returning from the trip I have a profound sense that the more you travel, the more ‘diverse’ cultures you meet and the more you realise that humanity is defined by its similarities not its differences.

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Chiang Mai is a well known stop over for people doing treks which calls into question how tourists are impacting on traditional ways of life; a way of life that should be preserved. However, living with the Karen people, even only briefly, you realise they are not resistant to change – they want better lives for themselves and their families and it is about finding an equilibrium that rewards both parties. If you ever visit Chiang Mai I would encourage you to find a tour that has a good reputation so this balance can be successfully struck.

Whilst today is certainly a write off in terms of more adventure, we’ll certainly be making the most of our last few days in Thailand before we cross the border into another world, another culture and more great people!

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