So I finally tried durian fruit. I've seen it in the markets many
times, or I should say I've smelled it. But I just never worked up
the courage to try it until the guesthouse manager in Um Phang offered
me some the other day.
Trekking guides gorging themselves on durian fruit
When you eat durian it becomes a part of you.
For the next 24 hours everything you eat will taste like durian and
everything you smell will smell like durian. Durian is the festering
fruit of unwholy pestilence released from the sulferous pits of hell.
Some people really love durian. I remain unconverted.
Hiking our way to the village
I went trekking for a few days and stayed at a Karen village about a 4
hour hike into the jungle. There were no other tourists around to
split the cost of a trek with so the manager offered to just let me
tag along with the whole cadre of guides who were heading to the
village to build a house.
All of the guides were Karen or Burmese.
Interesting folks though a bit touchy at times. One of them start
flipping out and threw the instant coffee packets against some rocks
when he found out that I wasn't interested in drinking the stuff. He
later got drunk and apoligized. I came to understand that he'd been a
monk for about 3 years and was having trouble dealing with "the
pressures" as he called them of the outside world.
One of the guys who was a porter and guide-in-training was assigned
to me to see to it that I was kept happy and escorted to some
waterfalls I wanted to see. The manager figured it would be a good
chance for the guy to practice his English and if we got stuck we
could just speak Thai.
This sounded good in the office but when we
got to the jungle I soon learned that a Karen accent renders Thai
completely incomprehensible to me. The only person in the village I
was able to understand was the school teacher (because she was Thai,
Waiting out a heavy rain in a rice-farmers hut while trekking
Monsoons have started to appear briefly as the first rainy
season approaches. Riding out of Um Phang in a sawng-thaew (pick-up
truck with covered benches in the back) we drove through one for about
an hour before reaching it's edge. The transition was instantaneous.
From deafening rain, to raising dust-clouds on perfectly dry gravel.
My visa expires in a week and I'm debating whether to step over the
border to Burma (6km from where I am now) and get a 30-day visa or
try to get across the country to Laos and pick up a 60-day one in the
capital of Vientiane.