After our unforgettable few weeks with Phikkuni Punya Panya, myself and Kiva decided to spend our remaining days in Thailand wandering around Chiang Mai. I’ll probably do another post on the city in weeks to come(Kiva is adamant that she will live there one day!), but for now I shall focus on one particular activity we did, that being Pooh Eco-Trekking.
From the picture and title it’s pretty obvious which Disney character I’ll be basing this blog around, but I swear the trek’s name came first- the guy in charge is actually called Mr Pooh! Unfortunately I never got to meet this gentleman, but I decided to write him into our adventure in Winnie form instead!
For more information on the trek just follow the link below. The trip involves heading to… mountains… I’m not even surprised I don’t know the name of where we were… well the most important thing is that they picked us up from our hostel in Chiang Mai, we drove for about two hours, then spent the day hiking up to one of the dwelling places of the Karen tribe. We were driven there and shown around by a Karen tribe member named Rapu, who had perfect English (having been sent to school in Bangkok thanks to an American charity. It was hilarious hearing him talk about his rich sponsor, and how he had to write to her from time to time). Kiva and I were worried it would be a bit like a Human Zoo, but thanks to the Karen guides like Rapu everything has much more of a community feel to it.Our hike was two days long, and we slept overnight in Rapu’s friend’s house.
I hope you enjoy Pooh’s rendition of the trip’s hi-lights!
Once upon a time (that Time we were Upon being about two months ago, if you were wondering), Winnie the Pooh had grown tiresome of sitting all day in the Hundred Acre Wood under the name of Sanders. Pooh decided that he needed a change of scenery, but, he being a bear of very little brain, he was not altogether sure where he would obtain such a thing.
Naturally, he invoked the help of one Mister Christopher Robin, who, while approving of Pooh’s adventurous spirit, was nonetheless worried for his friend’s well-being. He therefore acquired the details of another Pooh almost halfway across the world, feeling certain that one Pooh would make another Pooh’s safety a priority.
Unfortunately, Winnie the Pooh never got to meet Mr. Pooh, but knew almost instantly that he was in good hands with Rapu. This may have been because his name sounded like a mix of his and his friend Rabbit’s names, or it could have been because Rapu insisted they stop for breakfast halfway through the drive to the starting point of the hike… perhaps we’ll never know… actually no… come to think of it, it was probably the food thing, since he insisted they stop for a big lunch too…
Left: Lunch view. Myanmar is parently only about 60km from where the photo was taken
Right: A very full Pooh-bear amongst his new friends Rosa (The Netherlands), Jenni (USA – girlfriend of Ollie), Kate (Irish), Kiva (Irish), Irene (China – daughter of Jennifer), Jennifer, Ollie (New Zealand).
After lunch everyone hopped onto a truck to admire the view as they reached the point where they would start hiking. Pooh was eager to exercise – it was the best way to work up a new appetite after all. Rapu broke off some bamboo for everyone to use as walking sticks and off they headed up, up, up the hill.
Say what you will of Pooh’s i-Kyooh, he has an excellent judge of character. As he expected, Rapu was a wonderful guide, and stopped for breaks from the walk every now and then to show everyone the different plants and insects of the Sopmoei-Mae Sariang countryside. Rapu also shared lots of tips and tricks with them about their surroundings, for example: he knew that if you touch a bamboo leaf off of your knee before you cook rice in it, the rice won’t cook properly, he knew that if you crush a Daddy-Long-Legs’ body and wipe your eyes you’ll turn blind, and he also knew that the rumbling red creature named Yamaha that passed them was actually a breed of Japanese dog. He was confident with all of these strange creatures, and at one point plopped a giant Golden Crab Spider onto Kate’s belly (with her permission, I might add), insisting that an animal will not bite unless you hurt them, whereas if you hurt a human they will hurt you back ten times over. Pooh was comforted by this, since before he left, Tigger had scared him by telling him to watch out for Heffalumps and Woozles.
Right: Rapu showing the group a dried piece of wasp hive, and Pooh temporarily mistaking it for a sign that there were honey-bees nearby.
So many parts of the walk looked just like the Hundred Acre Wood did on a sunny day… he even found a mole burrow that looked just like Rabbit’s! It looked so similar that Pooh-bear knocked, but when Rabbit didn’t answer “Nobody!”, Pooh concluded that his friend was not tricking him into thinking he wasn’t there. This made Pooh miss the Hundred Acre Wood briefly, but he was having so much fun that the combination ignited a desire to know just as much about his own home as Rapu and the other Karen people did about theirs… or perhaps he was just feeling hungry…
Pooh then got time to splash around with his new friends in the water while Rapu made some beautiful cutlery and cups out of bamboo for them (Pooh kept an eye out to see if he would start carving the word ‘Hunny’ onto one of the cups, and tried not to act too disappointed when this didn’t happen).
Lowest photo: Pooh being spoiled for choice by the generous Karen people. Here he met his first two Karen women, one of whom wore a long skirt over her trousers to show she had a husband. Pooh rather liked the skirt, but liked her friend’s Minnie Mouse jumper just as much.
Pooh was feeling rumbly in his tummy after all of the walking, and was reluctant to start again, but Rapu kept his and everyone else’s spirits highinthesky with his positive attitude and jokey personality. He sang songs and laughed easily, and cheered Pooh up so much that he decided to do the same for his new friend Kiva:
Oh, silly old bear.
Who’s saying that?
Oh. Hello Pooh-bear… I’m the narrator.
You sound different to my usual narrator…
Ah, yes, well there can be lots of narrators! In this particular instance… I’m Kate! Remember? From the Thailand trip?
Oh Kate! It’s so good to hear from you!Piglet says hello, don’t you Piglet?
Aww! Tell him hi back!
Are you in Australia by now? Have you met lots of Roo’s cousins?
Not up close unfortunately, but as soon as I do I’ll tell them yourself and Roo sent me! Pooh I really have to get back to narrating this blog if that’s OK? I’ll get right back to you when you’re done, I have to tell you about Vegemite. They put it on toast here!
Oooh well that sounds exciting! *chuckles*
…Surely it can’t be better than Honey, can it?
Left: Ropu stealing tomatoes from his friend’s vegetable patch. Pooh, on Rabbit’s behalf, did not approve, even if it did mean free food.
Right: Ropu’s friend and his Japanese dog.
The sun was good enough to wait until Pooh and his friends reached the perfect place to see the sunset before it decided to… well… set. It was then a short, simple downhill trot towards the Caren people’s village.
Left: More new friends for Pooh
Right: Kate befriends their Walt Disney kitty (in spite of her allergies)
Pooh settled into Rapu’s friends’ cosy home, while a few of the Karen people kindly cooked up a beautiful feat for them. Pooh was ever so hungry, but decided to decline the dead wasp snacks offered to him in the meantime…
Pooh tried and tried to stay up and chat to everyone for as long as he could, but eventually found himself under the dreamishly draped mosquito nets, snug as a bear could be…
Pooh spent the next morning lazily admiring the Karen people’s everyday view while trying to ignore how much he needed the bathroom, since there may have been a giant spider a-lurking in the outhouse (and before you ask, no, Pooh does not usually go in the woods – what kind of honey-lovin’ bear do you take him for?). He befriended their host’s young grandson and had so much fun with him that he regretted having to leave the village so early…
Pooh left the Karen tribe’s million-star hotel (well, not anymore, now that it was daytime) with a cry of “TABLOO NEBONAY TA!” (he wasn’t sure if that’s how it was spelt, but it was certainly how it was felt), and made his way towards the waterfall with the group.
After much sploshing around, Ropu led the group towards the bat cave. It took a moment for Pooh to enter, since it was cold, and the darkness reignited his fear of Woozles, but the journey was most positively worth it…
Pooh’s trip ended with him wishing he could go back to page one all over again, but his friend Kate promised to preserve the adventure forever, so he could enjoy it from the comfort of the Hundred Acre Wood whenever her wished…