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April 27 - April 29, 2002


About Thailand
About the Trip
Scenic Wallpaper
Thai Language
Links and Books
About the Author
Getting there
Ubon Ratchathani
Ko Chang
Surat Thani
Suan Mokkh #1
Suan Mokkh #2
Suan Mokkh #3
Suan Mokkh #4
Chiang Mai #1
Western Laos
Vang Vieng
Lake Nam Ngum
Nong Khai
Khon Kaen
Chiang Mai #2
Chiang Mai #3
Chiang Mai #4
Chiang Mai #5
Mae Sariang
Mae Hong Son
Tham Lot
Chiang Mai #6
Nan & Phrae
Um Phang
Mae Sot
Bang Pa-in
Udon Thani
Sakhon Nakhon
That Phanom
Nakhon Phanom
Sri Racha
Going Home
Here's the email I sent after I returned from trekking:

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.

Sunset in the Karen village

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.

Waterfall near the village

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, not Karen).

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.


Trekking Pictures...

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Around the Karen village

The village school

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Walking around local rice farms

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Hiking to a nearby waterfall

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Sunset in the village

Bamboo grove

Thilawsu Waterfall

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Experimenting with different film speeds

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More Thilawsu pictures

Shooting from the top of a set of falls

Photo of myself and the park rangers pet monkey

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