a walk in the woods

In the morning at half past seven is no-one up to give us breakfast although we talked about it last evening with someone from the staff.

We find a box with water in the corner of the restaurant and empty eight bottles in our bags.
Sharp eight o'clock a white car arrives and from it emerges a cheerful hiker called Chang. We eat a fast breakfast in the town center, make a picture of the lake, take with us a tall young man and drive to some village. In the village lives Chang's brother. He does not speak English but carries some of the stuff. The lady herself also carries quite an amount of stuff that she ties around her in Asian fashion with cord and plastic bags.
With a tin container over the river, through a field and directly into bush. Most of the day the landscape is flat. From time to time we come out of the bush and walk along more or less dry riverbed. The brother walks ahead and waves his machete in order to make the trail better for tourists. We eat some sour berries that we find on the ground. Chang talks about all plants around us and what you can do with them. Most of the forest is good for eating plus the brooms, 30 baht per kilo. After a while I have the feeling that we keep circling the same place all the time.
Lunch is next to a small river and everybody wishing to do so can have a dip. The tall man from Manchester whose name is Jordan, does not go into water. The brother and sister carve for everyone a cup and a spoon from bamboo. We'll need these now for every meal.
The most creepy sight during the day is a couple dozens of spiders with long slim legs who have gathered on a small tree. Chang truly loves the forest, every now and then she comments that something is very beautiful. She asks forgiveness from a tree before she cuts a piece of its bark for tea and collects also other things in her pockets that we can later find in our meal.
Before evening we reach a cave. The cave is high up and has a few chambers. On higher floor is bedroom and lower the kitchen. But first we go and cut many banana leaves. These become mattress and carpet.
Sticky rice is boiled in bamboo tube, water is boiled in bamboo tube, the dishes are out of bamboo and it seems that everything you cannot make out of banana leaf, are out of bamboo.
The candle that lights the cave creates quivering shadows on the roof that is full of hollows. There are supposed to be no mosquitoes because the bats eat all of them. It's a bit difficult to find a sleeping position so that no stump on the leaf would not be under my spine.
It is not cold to sleep but at five they start cooking downstairs and the smoke comes in.
Jordan looses his water bottle when climbing down and when picking it up, I lean on a rock holding the bottle and leave some skin from a finger on the rock. Later after breakfast when I go back up to pack I see a giant critter escaping from next to my sleeping bag. It goes into a hole in the wall. I was looking at the hole in the evening and wondering who might live there.
For start there's an everlasting climb in thicket up to our necks. From the top we can look into Burma. When we stop then bees arrive who wish to lick salt from the skin of sweating people. Jordan appears to be the most popular among them. Going down it looks like he has very slippery shoes or for some other reason he covers much of the distance on his bum. Finally the brother gives him a hand and they continue downwards together. When they're almost there, Jordan thanks for help and falls on his back immediately. Later Külli falls into a stream. The afternoon trail goes along the river and butterflies.
Today's accommodation has to be in a house. Before reaching it we eat berries from the field. I don't know what berries these are or if eating berries had been approved by the owners.
There's a lone house in the middle of the fields. Or there are roof and floor. And some people who obviously live there. And a big quantity of dogs and chicken. A lady installs two mosquito nets and a dozen blankets under one roof for us. It takes forever with dinner so we almost fall asleep while waiting. Crickets are turned on and after that music. The sky is full of stars.
The roosters start either four or two thirty according to different observers. It's cold in the night. And the 'bed' is hard. Then again, the morning is beautiful and breakfast tasty.
The brother has disappeared somewhere so there are four walkers today. Or actually there's nine because all five dogs come to accompany us.
The first half or the day goes uphill and from up there are mountains visible is many layers. The second half goes downhill for the joy of Jordan. Lunch comes with swimming and then we walk along the river back into civilization. Civilization is a nice Karen village where the tour guide's husband meets us with a car.

We booked our hike through Active Thailand website but Chang has her own tour agency in Mae Hong Son called Sawasdee Tour where it's possible to book directly and perhaps more cheap the same or some other tour.

In the hotel only half of our things that we left there are in our room so I make working memory exercises with the staff. If one of two bags is there then how many are missing? What color is the black bag? Finally the bag is found as is beer and dinner. But no breakfast that has to be ordered in advance. No cook. No idea what happens during the night to the cook who just made dinner.

a longer bus journey
back to big city

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