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Trip to Mae Hong Son

sunny 34 °C

Written on June 2...

JUNE 2 !!! Fuck!
Anyway, my original plan of taking the bus to Mae Hong Son was drastically modified when the white water rafting co told me that they had enough people for a group to go. Yay!
So off I decided to blow 1800B on a 2 day, 4 meals, 1 night accomodation trip rafting down a small river, which connected to the larger Pai river. I already knew that the group was made of two couples, one Israelis and one Quebecois, only to find out on the morning of, that the last person was another Qc girl, and we were going to share accomodations with 2 French guy (who were on a 3 day trekking tour) and the Thai "girlfriend" of one of the 2 guys. Sweet! We unfortunately often had to switch back to english for the Israeli couple (although the girls (Isralei and Thai) barely spoke english...at all). The other Qc girl, Annie, told me that she had booked the tour, even though she had just got to Pai, when she saw all of our names/nationalities (aka clearly from Qc). After teaching in China for 10 months, so Qc action sounded too good to pass! hehehe, I agree!
So anyway, off we went, on the quietest river in history.. we slowly drifted for the entire first day, with rapids that don't even deserve the name (weren't even classified, so actually don't deserve the name) while chatting, burning in the sun and being periodically covered in spiders (whevener the guide felt like having us go through branches, which were ALWAYS covered with quite large spiders! weee, made for some good panic attacks! hehehe). Good times! hehehe The highlight of the day was certainly the waterfall, which looked a bit small at first glance, but turned out to have the whole "back area" with water falling down small pools and stuff! Sooo much fun!!!
I have pics and will post them when I get to Bangkok (2 days for now).
We then arrived at the camp for the night, a few huts built in the middle of the jungle, which was very very cool and well set-up. We quickly set for a 1/2hour trek to a cave called Tiger cave (there's apparently a tiger bone somewhere far inside), which turned out quite cool, except that I didn't go all the way into the cave (the first part -maybe 50 meters in, going down- was ok, but going further required some serious squezzing through crevasses (well, not crevasses, as the opening was horizontal), but the rock was barely more than 30cm off the ground, requiring some serious crawling to get through the next chamber. There are apparently 4-5 of those "squeeze under" bouts .... I'll pass thank you very much. Furthermore the Israeli girl was having a bit of a panic attack (the whole trip was clearly difficult for her), so I (heroically khe khe!) hehehe) offered to go back up with her to the surface. Annie decided to join us. This cave is apparently off limits during the wet season as it fills up a little and one must hold their breath to go to the next chamber, and it (obviously) gets dangerous/impossible). Anyway, this allowed us to talk a slow and easy walk back to camp, while enjoying the bamboo forest and clear fresh creek and being midly attacked by mosquitos and big red ants. Lovely! hehehe (really, not so bad at all)

Back to camp we got to "shower" in the creek and change into dry clother (nice after being wet/hot/dirty for a full day!!) We eventually had an ok dinner, and got to sit around a fire, have a few beers while some people played guitar and tamtams. Ahhh... alcohol, camp fire, no electricity, lots of bugs... classic "camping". It started pouring (which was really needed for the water levels to potentially allow some half decent rafting) and we slept in a very damp environment, but it was great to be in such "middle of nowhere" nature. On the topic of spiders, while I clearly didn't like the ones we faced during the day, I had a real scare that evening. There were several toilets (all the "Thai type" I posted a pic of a while back, except for 1 "Western style"). I quite happily did my "petit pipi" on the Western one, and must have jumped a foot and a half when I got up and saw a MASSIVE black (well, it was dark, so it looked black, specially off the white ceramic) spider, with a body of nearly 1 inch and very long asociated legs! AHHHH!! It was right at the rim of the bowl, less than a freaking inch off my butt!!! AHHHH! Anyway, poured water over it and it quickly crawled wherever else it went, and I made sure to no frequent that toilet again. Weeee!
On a funner note, we got to chat with the guides (ours and the one for the French guys), which is always fun. It turns out that Canada and Thailand are not sooo different from each other on the topics of relationships/marriage, divorce, some politics, and many others things that I (sadly) forget at the moment. I really enjoyed this chat.
Ona different but related note: I finally got my itenary for France set-up, thanks to a chat with the French guys. I look forward to it! The Pyrenees, french country side, Paris, les Chateaux de la Loire...yay!!

The following day also started quite easy (rafting-wise), despite the fact that the water had rose by 1-2feet just from the rain of the previous night! It was a muddy ugly new shade of brown though! hehehe. Same slow drifting and periodic spider attacks, until we finally made it to Pai river, and to a few half decent rapids, which made me decide that I definitely want to go rafting again (It was my first experience). The guide was also very good, often turning the raft off the "best line" (on smaller rapids) so we'd get wet and a bit scared. Overall, there's was only 3-4 really good ones, the rest were quite easy, but whitewater rafting is undeniably very very fun!
We stopped at some hot springs, which were a bit of a disappointment, as we all expected sort of a pool (not advertised as such, but was just somehow expected), as well as a mud bath (was advertised at the travel office), but what we got was 3 small creeks of tiny, almost boiling water, and no real mud in sight. We couldn't have gone in the water even if there had been a pool, as the water was 70 to 80celcius!!!! (boiling is 100 I think) You could barely touch the it! hehehe, now THAT's a HOT spring! Anyway, I though it was nice nevertheless.
We then made it to a cliff jump spot, where one can choose to jump (although this part of the trip is not covered by insurance, as we got told a few times! hehehe). The jump is normally 7 meters high, but because of the super low water levels (of the end of dry season-and rainy season hasn't really started yet here), it was actually 10 meters high, with less water to land in!
The low water level could actually be seen throughout the 2 days, and I could certainly imagine the experience to be a LOT different at the end of wet season (the toughest rapid we did was level 2-3, which, when the water is high, it's easily 4-5 - big massive difference!!).
Anyway, Annie, who weights at least 30-40 pounds less than me said that she actually went flat on her back at the bottom of the river when she landed from the jump (didn't get hurt, but still!). It really didn't look fun at all so I took on my chicken costume and passed (only 3 of 6 people jumped).
We still had a good hour of slow easy drafting before finally making it to the end of the trip. By that time I was glad to get off and looking forward to getting into some dry clothes!
While my teammates had a 2.5hour ride back to Pai on the back of those "jeep/bus" things, I only had a 15mins ride to Mae Hong Son.

Posted by Mistrale 05:46 Archived in Thailand

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