On My Itinerary: Elephants on Parade

We’re back from our two-day jungle trek through some friendly “hill tribe” villages where I suspect the people in traditional garb really operate some high-tech consulting companies until tourists appear on their grounds, then they suddenly start sifting rice and feeding pigs and try to sell us some jewelry. Nonetheless, we followed our guide, Gou, who has a laugh like the first half of Woody Woodpecker’s cackle and nonstop energy as he ran up the mountains while the rest of us dragged along with our packs. At night we rested in an elevated rattan hut; in the morning our transport, an elephant, picked us up and took us along the river. It is more romantic in pictures, considering I thought we would slide right off the wood seat and into the river when we trudged downhill, but it was still an experience. Later we rode a bamboo skiff down the river, with Jon poling on one end and two other boys in our group helping out. At one point it crashed into some rocks and my legs were scraped up, but that only makes for a true journey.

Later we rode in the back of a pickup truck to Chiang Mai; the first half on the country road was so bumpy and dusty I wished we were back on an elephant. Today we are about to bike around the historic capital of Sukhothai, and Jon is heaving sighs over my shoulder waiting for his turn for the Internet, and I have been banned from uploading photos until Koh Tao because it takes too long to post them. Until then!

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