March 22, 2004 Ayutthaya Thailand

Once more I am over in Thailand to work on casting new pieces into bronze. But, as they say, all work and no play makes Jay a dull boy. So after getting things started at two foundries I took the overnight train to Chiang Mai. I didn't find much of interest in the city, after you have seen a few Wats whats the point in seeing more?

I decided to go on a trek though the jungle. There were eleven of us plus the guide is a member of the Ka'ren Hill Tribe. We were jammed into the back of a small pickup truck for a two-hour ride from Chiang Mai to a National Park to the north.


Then we headed off to the hills. You can see the smoke rising from fires that the hill people set to burn out the undergrowth.

It was very hot and after hiking uphill was hard. Soon we were all dripping with sweat and were very glad when after a couple of hours we reached a waterfall where we could rest and cool off. The water was nice and cool but it was coming down from very high above us so that it hurt if you got right under the thickest part.


That night we slept in a native hut of an abandoned village. The living conditions were pretty primative but they made sure that we had the important things:



A native couple cooked us dinner and then we sat around a fire and talked. I brought along a harmonica and played that and some of us sang songs. We all slept in one big room on plastic mats with no mattress or anything to soften the wooden boards we slept on. As tired as I was I would wake up every hour or so because my hip would be hurting. So I would roll over onto the other side and go back to sleep until that hip hurt enough to wake me up. Here is a picture of our bunkhouse.



After breakfast, we hiked through the jungle until we arrived at an elephant camp where we had lunch and I bought some handicraft gifts for some of my very special grandchildren.


After lunch, we rode on the elephants for a couple of hours down to the next village. They are very big animals and when you are up on top of them, it is pretty scary because it would be a long way down if you fell. But after a while, you get used to it. Towards the end of the ride, my elephant was feeling soft of hungry so he ripped a whole banana tree up out the ground with his trunk and ate the whole thing! Those elephants are so big and strong it is good thing they are friendly to us humans.



The next day we hike a bit more and then went rafting down a river on rafts made out of bamboo. It is the dry season so there wasn't very much water in the river, but we had fun racing the rafts, bumping into each other, and splashing water.



Then we got back into the pickup truck for the long ride back to Chiang Mai. The trek was over. We were all a bit sore, tired, and looking forward to taking a nice shower and sleeping in a real bed. As Lord Byron once said, "Comfort can not be expected by those of us that go a pleasuring."

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