All the blog entries that I've managed to scratch down, while travelling around the world.
You can view these blog entries in reverse chronological order (below), or you can browse them in a monthly archive. You may find the monthly archive more convenient for catching up on older entries, or for finding specific entries or ranges of entries.
When we arrived at the Karen village today, *Cluck* announced to us excitedly: "tonight BBQ pig for dinner." Most of us accepted the news eagerly — almost everyone loves a good plate of roast pork — and even though I wasn't planning to eat any of it (I've had enough traife lately, thanks), I had no problem with them cooking up some pig on the campfire. But little did we realise just what was involved in "having BBQ pig" — had we comprehended the fact that out here in the jungle, you have to slaughter and butcher a pig before you eat it, perhaps we would have thought differently.
WARNING: the following blog post contains images that may disturb some readers. If you are uncomfortable with highly graphic depictions of dead or dissected animals, then please stop reading now, or disable image display in your browser.
For the second night of our Doi Inthanon trek, we're staying at the Karen "hill-tribe" village in the area. I say "hill-tribe" with inverted commas, and for good reason: this is actually well-known as a "fake" village — unlike the real hill-tribe villages further north in Thailand, it's quite literally just kept here for the purposes of tourism — and this is fairly obvious when you visit the place. They get tourists staying here almost every night (especially during peak season), and they're neither awkward nor intimidated around us. We saw the hill-tribe school, where the local kids are taught to read and write; we were shown the villagers' humble houses; and we observed the various animals that roam freely around the town. Our accommodation for the night — like last night's — is a simply affair of bamboo huts, which are once again rather uncomfortable, but which are something rough and different.
The second day of our Doi Inthanon trek was easy-going — much like yesterday — but it did involve a fair bit more walking. From last night's campsite, we embarked on a big romp through the jungle, with a fair bit of uphill along the way. Our ascent came to a close in the afternoon, when we reached the famous Karen hill-tribe village that became our abode for this evening.
Of the 15 folks (including myself) that comprised my group during the Doi Inthanon trek, four others were native English speakers. The Pom couple are from fair London, and they've lived in the Canary Islands of Spain for several years, where they mainly worked in bars and partied in-between. The Canadian couple are a sweet pair from Winnipeg, which they describe as being "right in the middle of Canada", far from the big centres on both coasts.
Seven (or "Sevens") is one of the easier card games I've ever played. Gameplay is simple enough: people start by putting down sevens, and from there you put down cards (of corresponding suite) in order from eight to king, and from six to ace. First person to get rid of their hand is the winner. Sorta like playing dominoes with cards. Late this evening, at the waterfall camp where we spent the first night of our Doi Inthanon trek, myself and some of the other guys played a few games of Seven. The game is really too civilised and boring for my liking (don't forget, I've been playing card games with such names such as "S$#%head" and "A$$hole" all year), but it's a good time-passer nonetheless.
Our first chance to all get to know each other, during the Doi Inthanon trek, presented itself today at lunch. There are 15 of us in all, and Europe definitely dominates: two Swedes, two Dutch, two Germans (two guys), four Danish (two couples), two English, two Canadians, and myself. We enjoyed a quick lunch in "*Cluck*'s village" — *Cluck* claims to live in the village's largest house — and we explored the houses and farmyards a bit. When someone asked *Cluck* if he had a baby in his stomach (due to his constantly baring the formidable chubby spot and patting it), he said: "yes, baby ladyboy" :P. From the village, we spent most of the afternoon hiking, until we reached our gorgeous camp by the falls.
Nobody ever found out his real name; but when asked, the loud and comical leader of our Doi Inthanon trek make a loud *cluck* noise with his tongue. Hence, he became known to us as *cluck*. *Cluck* is a real character. He enjoys introducing his tour groups to the wonders of bamboo bongs, of rock-sliding on waterfalls, and of fresh BBQ pig. He's a bit chubby, and he takes great pride in being able to make the rolls of fat on his chest "oscillate" in a way that most likely measures on the richter scale. Plus, he claims to own the largest house in the village where we had lunch today. None of us will be forgetting this bloke in a hurry.
I can't remember their names, but this young, Dutch husband-and-wife couple were two of the people with me on the Doi Inthanon trek. We became acquainted when I jumped onto a bamboo raft with them, and we remained chummy for the rest of the trip. Nice pair, and they're enjoying the hot Thai "winter" as much as all the other Europeans down here.
Two of the people on the Doi Inthanon trek with me, Linus and his friend are a pair of young Swedish friends. I can't remember the friend's name; but I remember Linus, of course, because of that name's fame. One of these guys looks pretty Swedish; but the other is black as can be, and is clearly not of Swedish ancestry! These two guys are nice enough, although they're not the most talkative pair — and they prefer to speak to each other in Swedish, than to talk to the rest of the group in English (unlike most Swedish people I've met on this trip).
My Doi Inthanon trek was kicked off today, with a fun and unusual introductory activity: bamboo rafting on the river. The 15 of us (brought in 2 pickup trucks) arrived at the rafting camp, where the people in charge were preparing the rafts for our little journey. It was 3-4 people on each raft (plus a Thai captain). For my raft, it was myself and the Dutch couple. Each captain stood at the front of the vessel, and was armed with a bamboo shaft, for steering us down the river — since I was at the back of my raft, I too was given a stick of bamboo, although I didn't really know what to do with it (I had an obligatory paddle now and then). The rafting itself was good fun, but was totally easy-peasy: nothing like proper rafting; and puny little excuses for "rapids" was the worst we encountered along the river. Then again, I wouldn't particularly want anything more extreme than that, while balanced precariously on a few loosely-held-together sticks of bamboo.