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Where are you going next?

 Africa86 votes
76.11%
 South America3 votes
2.65%
 Europe3 votes
2.65%
 Eastern Asia5 votes
4.42%
 Carribean9 votes
7.96%
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1.77%
total votes: 113
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"If you knew the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it." -- The Buddha

261--Thailand: Intro to Bamboo Rafting
@ CherieSpotting     Dec 10 2004 - 03:53 PST
cherie writes: Diane, Hilda and I were trekking amongst the hill-tribes of Northern Thailand when we found ourselves spending the night with the Aka tribe. The next village was accessible by two ways—an elephant or a flimsy bamboo raft. Ready for a new adventure, we loaded all of our belongings onto make-shift bamboo rafts, protected our cameras with sturdy zip-lock baggies, and we let the fun begin.

If life-insurance companies had any sense they’d deny coverage to people who: 1. sky-dive 2. scuba dive or 3. bamboo raft.

After waving goodbye to the friendly Akas, we boarded our slightly sinking over-loaded bamboo rafts. It was nice that we spent the morning packing our belongings so diligently, since they were about to get soaked. The Akas lined up on the shore and splashed us with sticks screaming “Ciao!”

As a group, we’ve grown tired of explaining where we are all from. It’s just too complicated. The twins and I are American, Hannah and Kirsty are Scottish, Leighton is South African, Lynn is Canadian, Yorham and Edna are American-Israeli, and Amanda and Lee are Australian. So we decided to call our trekking gang the “Ciao Tribe.”

Leighton christened himself King of the Ciao tribe, which prompted all the Ciao Tribe women to spit out whatever beverage they were sipping. Quick-witted King Ciao said: “In the Ciao Tribe, that is a sign of respect.”

Leighton pushed us off and smacked his bamboo stick in the water, which made him look very manly and made the rest of the tribe look very wet. Our Thai guide brandished a scary knife and came after Leighton (King Ciao) and we thought we might witness a hill-tribe sacrifice. Then he sharpened Leighton’s bamboo stick into a point, gave us a toothless grin, and placed himself at the front of the raft again, ready and eager to steer us into rocks.

Each bamboo raft had two guides whose job was to get our wobbly rafts down the river. The only thing our guide “Eddy” said (in English) the entire trip was “Eddy not a lady-boy.” The “guides, placed at the front and back of the raft, screamed back in forth at each other yelling commands in Thai as we snaked down the river.

Since I’ve been in Thailand a few weeks now, I am practically fluent in Thai, so I translated for the rest of the Ciao Tribe. “Eddy just said: Let’s dump the tourists on the next rapid” and then later “Want to try a 360?”

Our front-guide spoke a bit more English than Eddy and advised me: “Waterfall ahead” in sufficient time for me to return my camera to its zip-lock pouch. Our guide wasn’t joking. We bumped through the rapid in disorganized frenzy and slammed into a boulder throwing the entire Ciao tribe into the front of the raft.

Kirsty and I were at the front, submerged up to our chest in rushing water holding onto the raft like a fat kid grips a chocolate bar. Kirsty looked at me, her wee chin a few inches above the pounding water and said in her Scottish accent: “Me camera is in me pocket.” I understood her pain, as I’ve fed many cameras to the hungry rivers.

The Ciao Tribe became quite skilled at banging into rocks and trying to impale me and Kirsty on our own luggage. During another “waterfall” Kirsty looked at me and simply said: “I’m drinking tonight.” Later, we nick-named Kirsty “Vodka.”

After Bamboo rafting, Hannah was distressed. Not only did she break a nail, but after 3 days of trekking, Hannah thought she had a tan. After the wet ride down the river, Hannah realized she was just dirty. Her tan slipped down the river, never to be seen again.

Click on each picture to see it full size.

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We had to use bamboo rafts to get from one village to the next while trekking in the hill-tribes. *Photo by Yorham.

We had to use bamboo rafts to get from one village to the next while trekking in the hill-tribes. *Photo by Yorham.

We started our bamboo rafting trip after spending a night with the Aku and Lahu tribes in these riverside bamboo huts.

We started our bamboo rafting trip after spending a night with the Aku and Lahu tribes in these riverside bamboo huts.

Leighton hanging out with the boys.

Leighton hanging out with the boys.

Our bamboo rafts in the making.

Our bamboo rafts in the making.

A local building our transportation to the next village.

A local building our transportation to the next village.

Before the guys leave with the rafts, let's do the laundry. *Photo by Edna.

Before the guys leave with the rafts, let's do the laundry. *Photo by Edna.

These bamboo rafts are as flimsy as they look.

These bamboo rafts are as flimsy as they look.

Hilda and Lynn, are you ready to raft?

Hilda and Lynn, are you ready to raft?

Hey, we're civilized.  Let's first have coffee and tea.

Hey, we're civilized. Let's first have coffee and tea.

Cherie and a local Aka woman.

Cherie and a local Aka woman.

Hilda and Diane pack very carefully.  Little do they know that their belongings are about to be soaked.

Hilda and Diane pack very carefully. Little do they know that their belongings are about to be soaked.

Aka woman accepts the trekking hats as a gift from Cherie and the twins.

Aka woman accepts the trekking hats as a gift from Cherie and the twins.

She's probably thinking: "These hats sure look funny."

She's probably thinking: "These hats sure look funny."

Our home away from home.

Our home away from home.

This young Aka girl is tired.

This young Aka girl is tired.

The rafts.

The rafts.

All of our worldly posessions are about to get wet.

All of our worldly posessions are about to get wet.

Making the raft.

Making the raft.

I can't believe this thing floats!

I can't believe this thing floats!

Sunny asks: "Are you ladies really ready to bamboo raft?"

Sunny asks: "Are you ladies really ready to bamboo raft?"

Here's how you do it.

Here's how you do it.

Cherie and Sunny.

Cherie and Sunny.

For the twins, it is just like surfing.

For the twins, it is just like surfing.

And they're off!

And they're off!

Bamboo rafting is all about balance.

Bamboo rafting is all about balance.

Row, row, row your raft. *Photo by Yorham.

Row, row, row your raft. *Photo by Yorham.

Waterfall ahead--hold on tight!

Waterfall ahead--hold on tight!

There they go!

There they go!

We survived the first waterfall a little wet, but still in good spirits.

We survived the first waterfall a little wet, but still in good spirits.

Lynn and Leighton.

Lynn and Leighton.

Hannah's a pro! *Photo by Yorham.

Hannah's a pro! *Photo by Yorham.

Kirsty's camera is in her pocket.

Kirsty's camera is in her pocket.

Going down the river. *Photo by Edna.

Going down the river. *Photo by Edna.

The guide puts his face in his palms.  What am I going to do with the Ciao Tribe? *Photo by Lee.

The guide puts his face in his palms. What am I going to do with the Ciao Tribe? *Photo by Lee.

Amanda and Lee.

Amanda and Lee.

Cherie, navigating up front.

Cherie, navigating up front.

This is the man who guided us down the river.

This is the man who guided us down the river.

They made it!

They made it!

Sunny...why are our bags all wet?

Sunny...why are our bags all wet?

Learning from the best.

Learning from the best.

Kirsty and a Coke.

Kirsty and a Coke.

Twins...it's time for a beer.

Twins...it's time for a beer.

The Ciao Tribe made it!

The Ciao Tribe made it!

Sitting on the dock...wasting time.

Sitting on the dock...wasting time.

Aka woman.

Aka woman.

She just asked me if I know a good dentist.

She just asked me if I know a good dentist.

Little girl.

Little girl.

Kids all bundled up.  Do they know how hot it is? *Photo by Yorham.

Kids all bundled up. Do they know how hot it is? *Photo by Yorham.

The tribal kids are so cute.  *Photo by Yorham.

The tribal kids are so cute. *Photo by Yorham.

On our drive back to "civilization" we share the road with elephants.

On our drive back to "civilization" we share the road with elephants.

The elephants. *Photo by Lee.

The elephants. *Photo by Lee.