Trekking to Mae Junte

Day IV – March 22

So nice to be able to wear longsleeves, even if it’s just in the morning; covering your skin gives a sense of comfort I never noticed before, as I had never experienced this all covering, oppresive heat. I hope I can keep them on a little longer today, to cover against sun and bugs in the jungle.

Funny: our guide Sami warned us to bring warm clothes, as it can get very chilly up in these hills at night. We asked him for an estimate. Shivering, he replied “16 degrees!”

First stop is a local market where Sit makes the boys eat crickets or maggots or something that made us girls go: “ewww!”

Halfway out to the dropping point we stop to dive in at a waterfall which we all proclaim to be the best shower EVER and decide we never want to leave this place. However, after a quick dry-up on that sunny rock we’re ushered back into the truck; we still have a long day ahead of us.

We arrive in the Karen-village Mae Junte in the afternoon, after a very nice, only slightly exhausting walk. The amazing scenery and just the feeling of being out so far into nature’s depths are extremely calming and exciting at the same time. It is very obvious it’s dry season and doesn’t look a lot like the jungle I envisioned, so I can only imagine how amazing it must be during, or right after rainy season. I should be seeing that time of year on Bali and I can’t wait!
Sit usually leads the way but every now and then Sami would shout “Shortcut!” and lead us the long, but adventurous way around. They’re such great guides, stopping here and there to point out traces of one creature or another.

The walk down into the valley where the village is feels so rewarding! After encountering no other humans for hours suddenly there is the sound of kids playing and piglets running and chickens scurrying and the rooftops appear and then you can make out the bamboo houses high on their poles and there’s the tinkling sound of a stream that brings in the water supply, and it is amazing!
That little stream is also the town shower, lead into a big bamboo pipe so you can actually stand under it like a shower, really crafty. So all of us change into our swimwear and jump in. Best shower EVER!

Tonight we get to make springrolls and Sit cooks for us, and he is as amazing at that as he is at being our guide, so dinner is an absolute feast! I never knew how much I LOVE Asian food!

After dinner we’re invited into the home of one of the families to share a cup of tea. It is literally one cup going around with everyone taking one sip before passing it on. We ask questions and Sit explains in English or discusses with the family in Karen, a very different language again from Thai.
I love the way these people live in their own way as they have since forever, and are completely concealed of the world out there and how it’s all going to hell. The younger villagers have been to the city – only 90 kilometers away after all – a few times in their lives. But this place and these traditions are still their ways.
After last night’s outing to the free-show alley, the contrast with this truly peaceful life is that much stronger.

We end our night by a crackling campfire where Sit, Daniel and I take turns at the guitar under a starry sky. Again I can’t find the words do justice to the feeling…

[this was day 4 of my personal experience with G-Adventures: Northern Hilltribe Trekking, a 7 day trip starting and ending in Bangkok, taking you up to Thailands beautiful North and into the homes of the Karen tribe, which I booked through Kilroy Travel]

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