Monday, 2 January 2012

Mr Whisky Trek

One of the main tourist attractions in Chiang Mai is to go on a trek. Our friends had already looked around various tour operators offering trek packages for between 1000B - 2,500B. We then spoke to 'Mr Whisky' who runs the treks from where we were staying but he was quoting us 6,500B. His promise was a 3 day trek that took us almost as far as the Burma border and not through the usual tourist route. We would have an experienced guide who would teach us about everything there is to know in the jungle, a 2 night stay in 2 different villages and he guaranteed that we would not bump into any other tour groups.

As we had a group of 6 we managed to barter him down to 4,500B each. We were obviously very dubious about handing over such a large amount of cash, considering it was still the most expensive tour we had found, however the Mr Whisky trek failed to disappoint any of us and it ended up being the best money i have ever spent.

Our meeting time was 6am the following day, we were provided with a backpack and sleeping bag, as well as a guide sheet of essential items we needed to bring with us.

We were joined by another British couple making our group total 8. After a brief stop off at a market (make sure you stock up on lots of snacks and water) we headed towards the mountains. During a stop we were taken around a local village where Mr Ton (our amazing tour guide) explained how the local villagers lived and a brief history of the village.

The team

During December make sure you take a warm jumper and trousers. Also ensure you have comfy walking boots/trainers, mine rubbed me so badly that i had to borrow some 'Crocs' (cringe haha) from Mr Ton!

The next stop was an enjoyable elephant trek. I must say I'm not a huge fan of these kind of activities but the elephants seemed well looked after and we were the only group there. We then stopped off for lunch where we were each given a utility belt that contained a knife, pouch and wooden catapult. We were told to carry our backpacks as the next part of our journey was on foot and was not accessible by car.

 The elephant trek

Target practise

 The boys loved their new toys

 Through the jungle we walked and for the next few hours Mr Ton enthusiastically explained to us the huge range of uses that the trees and leaves had in our world.  One survival tip Mr Ton showed us involved cutting down part of a huge vine that dripped with water you could actually drink from. It didn't taste too bad and afterwards, we all swung, tarzan style (haha) on the remainder of the vine.

Jason drinking from the vine

Ian, me and Josh swinging from the vine

Luke and i fell in the mud!

Towards the end of the day we collected fire wood and set up traps to catch rats, Mr Ton explained that if we caught any we would BBQ and eat them!

Setting up the rat traps

Ian, Aaron and I, carrying the firewood to the village

The first village we arrived at consisted of 3 large wooden shacks/sheds with two separate toilets (one western) a large cold bucket of water to wash in and no electricity. There was only one small family living here, with wild buffalo and chickens running around against the stunning drop back scenery. 
After a wash we were asked to help prepare dinner by peeling the veg and chopping the meat. Mr Ton cooked up a tasty feast, which was probably one of the best meals we'd had in Thailand. 

Our bedroom

 The shower

The spid in the shower!

Dinner preparations & cooking

 Relaxing on the balcony outside our room

The beautiful scenery that greeted us at the village

After dinner we all sat around the fire reflecting on our trek and drinking Chang, when Mr Ton called us over to a huge Chinese Lantern he had made. We wrote messages on the lantern and helped set it off, to our surprise Mr Ton had carefully attached a long line of bangers that allowed us to enjoy a mini firework show as we watched the lantern float into the dark nights sky.

The Chinese lantern

Mr Ton then said we would be going to check the rat traps. This actually turned into an hour long midnight trek (no rats were caught) where we saw a green viper snake in the trees and a tarantula. What made it funnier was how precarious the walk was, considering we had all consumed a little too much Chang i'm surprised we all made it out in one piece but then with Mr Ton as our guide we all knew we were in the safest of hands.
 En route to the rat traps

The green viper snake

The tarantula

We were awoken by the cockerel at 5am and drifted in and out if sleep until breakfast at 7.30am. After being cooked scrambled egg by Mr Ton we then toasted our bread over the fire.

Toasting our bread over the fire

Josh, Luke, Aaron and Ian

Ian and I relaxing by the fire and drinking our tea

We began our second day trek at 10am, with all of us slightly worse for wear and tired. The trek was a lot harder the second day, but worth every minute, with Mr Ton constantly keeping our spirits up and making us laugh. For our lunch we had to make our own chopsticks using the knives we had been given and our food was served inside home made bamboo bowls.

Me holding a lizard that Mr Ton found

 Rambo Ridge

The boys washing in the stream

A yellow spider crab

Lunch, served in bamboo

Oh no not the Crocs! Damn you Converse for rubbing my poor feet

We saw some stunning views during our trek and eventually arrived at the second village at around 6pm. The set up was similar to the first village although there were a few more families living here. 

All of us together after climbing a seriously steep mountain path

The village we stayed at on the second night

Our bedroom

After setting up more rat traps, Mr Ton cooked up yet another delicious feast, we then helped him make sticky rice by pouring the rice into bamboo sticks. These were cooked next to the fire whilst Mr Ton put on a hilarious show, with him singing and playing a guitar that he had made. Even though i was so tired that i could barely keep my eyes open, i didn't want to miss out on the entertainment or sticky rice, so i persevered and enjoyed the milky, warm rice that had been cooking by the fire for the past few hours. 

The food that Mr Ton kindly prepared and cooked

We were lucky enough to watch a lunar eclipse that evening and as the night sky didn't have a cloud in sight we saw the most beautiful stars that made the sky look like it had been dusted with glitter. We also saw a few shooting stars, it really was a very magical night.

I got to bed at around 11pm and awoke to yet another cockerel at 4:30am! The boys went to see if any rats had been caught and although their traps were empty, one of the local children had caught one. This was then cooked up for breakfast but as it was 7am and i was still in a slumber, i missed out on tasting the rat, although i did hear it tasted pretty bad!

The local boy seemed pleased with his catch

Anyone for BBQ rat?

Ian tasting the rat meat

The friendly villagers we met on the second night

We set off from the camp at 8:30am and walked for the next few hours until we reached a village where we ate our lunch. The locals were very welcoming and the children waved as we walked by. 

Some of the local children posing

Mr Ton blowing bubbles with a leaf!

We found our truck waiting for us and were driven to a river where we would all participated in Bamboo Rafting. The rafts were already made up and we split into two groups. We then proceeded to head down a slow flowing river, whilst being guided by an older Thai man who was very enthusiastic, his laugh alone made me laugh enough to almost fall in.

Bamboo rafting

Our final stop was a waterfall that was a short journey from the rafting. I was too cold to go swimming and took photos for the boys, who found the water so cold that every single one of them screamed like a girl once they had jumped in!

The boys at the waterfall

My verdict of the Mr Whisky Trek is that it was one of the best memories of my life and if you are looking for an unforgettable experience, without bumping into other tour groups and have the pleasure of meeting a fantastic tour guide with a great sense of humour, then look no further.

The legend that is Mr Ton

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your great report!

    Do you think this trip is doable with teenagers? Or would that be too physically challenging?