Our first day in the jungle was like a dream, something surreal and beautiful. You can read here about it.
The next day, after breakfast, we went to the Elephant camp, where we were about to see two elephants. We wanted to know that the elephants are treated well before going on this tour and also during it. I hope that what they have told us is true. The elephants live in the jungle, but they were born in captivity. During the day, they are at the camp, which is right in the middle of the jungle, next to the river, and in the evening they go to the jungle. Sometimes they stay there for days, without coming back to the camp.
For us, it was a unique experience to feed and wash them. Their size is impressive, and the way they look at us gave us goosebumps.
After seeing the elephants, we did another 4 hours of hiking through the jungle and rice fields, we saw a snake, scorpions, big ants, buffalos swimming in the river, big spiders and butterflies. After the 4 hours of hiking, we spent 30 minutes on the river on a bamboo raft, which was under construction when we arrived. The same raft brought us to the next village, completely wet because heavy rain caught us while sailing on the river. We had fun and we really enjoyed it, screaming and dancing.
The second village was smaller than the first one, with only 8 families that live there. It’s a settlement made by refugees from neighboring countries. Most of them have no identity papers. The village stands right by the river, and the first cottage was our accommodation. The children welcomed us dressed in some traditional clothes and trying to sell us different things. Someone in the group offered them candy and they were so happy.
I am fascinated by the bamboo floors, the hanging houses, the kitchen fire and the people who cook it. I sat down on the floor in the kitchen in a corner and watched them preparing meals, shaking the fire, interacting with each other and laughing.
After dinner, the guide showed us some magic tricks, which he explained to us so we could do them also. Then we played for a while, and at 10:00 pm we all got to sleep in the same room, with mattresses on the bamboo floor and mosquito nets around them. I am impressed by the way we interacted and how we respected each other, how we shared the same room, the same experiences without any difficulty.
In the morning we made a tour of the eight houses and we learned that they have a lifestyle similar to the Karen villagers. We went from there to the bamboo boats on the same river, which was more turbulent than the previous day. This time, we experienced a little adrenaline, but it was extraordinary to see how the water gets up to your knees, you feel like sinking and in the next second you are on the bamboo raft again.
We stopped to eat at a cottage on the edge of the river, then went to a butterfly farm by car. It did not impress me because it is very small and with few butterflies, but it was a very good stop for a coffee.
We arrived in Chiang Mai singing in the car, recording us as we were talking about our experience, sad to return to civilization, with promises to see each other again when we’ll have the opportunity and plans to have dinner in Chiang Mai in the evening.
This was our three-day jungle experience with elephants, bamboo boats, buffaloes, mosquitoes, rice fields, vegetation and extraordinary people.