Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Treking Zen

Before embarking to Thailand I had signed Dale and I up for a 24 hour Buddhist retreat where we would learn to meditate and have a chance to discuss Buddhism with Monks. I was really excited for a chance to learn first hand about a lifestyle and religion I have never experienced. I couple days before the retreat was to begin I checked the website ( and found out our session had been cancelled. I was, and still am, disappointed I didn't get this experience. I suppose I'll have to return another time! Not to waste our time, we decided to take a one day trek instead. The company we booked the trek with really cram packs your day full of activities. It wasn't this company but this is almost the same itinerary we had:

First stop was at an orchid farm. It was neat to see all the orchids in so many colors hanging in rows but honestly not a worthwhile stop.
Second stop was to visit hill tribes. I'd always seen the Karen Long Neck tribes on National Geographic and thought it would be interesting to see in person. I was wrong. It was sad. I felt like I was at a zoo and these human were on display. It made me feel sick. I'm almost 100% certain this 'tribe' which included four different tribes in one fenced off pay to enter location is entirely a tourist scam. No doubt they do not indeed live here full time. But the Karen tribe obviously really does wear the bronze rings around their necks and ankles. Apparently they originally started doing this to keep tigers from attacking them. Now it is part of their culture and religion. Well, it was a part of their religion for centuries until modern Christian missionaries have come along and given them money and food and built churches and in-doctrine them into Christianity. It's nice to see these people getting help but I can't help but feel a bit sad they are loosing their history. I bought a cheesy crappy necklace from them to try to help them, it didn't really soothe my soul at all though. Needless to say, I was ready to move on to stop number three.
Third stop was to ride elephants! We boarded our elephants and went on a ride around the property down to a river and back. It was a little bit scary. These elephants are so big I feel like if they really wanted to run they could haul! The trainers have sticks and hook into the elephants ears to steer them and slap them on their tushies to get them to move. I'm not sure the elephants are treated the best. They seemed tired and hungry. :( At the en we got to feed them pineapples and they really liked that.
 Dale and I got to ride the Momma elephant and in the picture below her son is in front of us!
We paused at the elephant riding place for a lunch of fried rice and pineapples and then is was off to stop number four, a 'trek' up to waterfalls. the hike was not too long or too strenuous although some of the other people on the tour seemed to think otherwise. The waterfalls were very pretty and refreshing though and it was nice to beat the heat in the water for a bit.
After we hiked back to the truck it was off to stop number five, of white water rafting and bamboo rafting. I've done my fair share of rafting while living in Colorado so the novelty wasn't so big for me. Almost everyone else on the tour had never been before. I always enjoy a nice ride on the water though and looking up at the shore to appreciate the scenery from a different vantage point. There were of course oar wars too which were enjoyed by some. :)
The bamboo rafting, I give a big thumbs down. It was a whole five minutes of riding on the defunct 'raft' you can see to the left of me in the picture below. You share it with three other people and ours was not made very well and we did not in fact float very well. The water, while on the bamboo raft, came up to my waist. I was not amused. Five minutes of that was more than enough.
Then it was back to town to end our whirlwind day of adventure. Overall, it was a great way to do a whole lot in a little bit of time. If you have time at your leisure, I would take the time to do each bit in a more quality environment. But this way was almost comical and so entirely touristy!
Love Always,


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