and we’re off…part 1
“before we knew it, mong (our local guide) charged down the hill with his basket on his back full of tons of food, water, a pot, and who knows what else…. we were told to follow with our little daypacks on our back, toil (our pai guide) following behind.
we started through farmlands, then down to a creek through banana and bamboo groves. first order of business was walking sticks. the men stopped got out there machetes and cut each of us a sturdy bamboo walking stick. we were off….
we hiked up, down and around, and it was hot hot hot! but we had our water, and every once in awhile it would get a little cooler. we ventured through major teak groves and bamboo groves…we trumped over dry clay, through creeks, over bamboo fences, and through masses of dried huge leaves…it felt like trumping through snow, only a little crunchier sounding. and of course, going through my mind was wondering what was underneath all these leaves, perhaps a poisonous snake? a giant spider? even a big lizard would give me a jump… but no such luck thank god.
after a few hours we stopped for lunch in a dry creek bed. the two guides pulled down some banana leaves and created some seats for us, then they swiftly created a fire with twigs, cut down some bamboo and made a mortar and pestle to crush chili and two bamboo cups for his homemade ‘moonshine whiskey’ – so resourceful! we sat in amazement as we watched the two of them create this tremendous lunch: ramen noodles with tons of fresh veggies, salted fish, pork belly, and a fresh chili sauce using some ‘wild olives’ they found in the forest. it was great, and super delish!
as we were sitting, we glanced above at the banana leaves and realized they were moving… there were thousands, if not millions, of daddy long leg spiders with the longest legs you’ve ever seen! and when the fire started, the smoke must of spooked them cause it started raining daddy long legs…. you could hear it even as they made a run for the ground, and crawling on us! it was crazy, but okay, none of us freaked too much, rather observed in amazement!
we tried some moonshine, and it literally evaporated on your tongue – strong stuff! and the two, toil and mong downed this stuff. it must keep them running. after lunch we ventured on to a waterfall, took a little dip, then we were on to the village. all in all we probably hiked around 16 km (miles??) up down and around, we were totally pooped!
we arrived at the karen village at dusk and were escorted to a house where tea awaited us. the ‘hill tribe’ was very much a village, with one satellite in sight, but still very rustic. we were greeted by what seemed like one very large family. the village itself consists of around 25 families. the house was two rooms, only separated by a half size wall and an open doorway and a step. the front room was the ‘kitchen’ and hangout area with some storage, the back room the sleeping area. large mats were thrown down with a small table and from there we were waited on all night long with tea, way too much food, snacks, fruit, etc….
the dinner was rice, dandelion soup with pork, morning glory greens with cat ear mushrooms, noodles with veggies…. all very good! and then we were given large samplings of a karen dinner… similar to ours but more spice and thrown in some dried fish and chili and tuna sauce that an eggplant like veggie was dipped into. soo much food though, but all good. the stars were amazing. the most we’ve seen yet by far. everybody was very nice, lots of staring from the curious kids too.
after we set up our beds, we all fell asleep pretty swiftly. but then… shortly after a lil sleep, jeff was awakened by a small sensation – after a little more focus on it, he felt something crawl up his beardand then all giant 8 legs hit his face, just over his eye! aaahhhhh!” we had previously seen this suckers outside in their bathroom: the size of your palm, dirt brown, skinny long legs and big eyes…… jeff swiftly and quickly grabbed it and threw it against the wall beside him creating quite a pound and a thump to follow, just to show you how big this guy was. after debating whether or not to wake me and tell me, he chose to wait til morning and then mummified himself in his blankets and tried to get more shut eye. so glad it wasn’t me, i think i would have screamed bloody murder!
more on our trek to come….