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WheresCherie.COM Quote
"We are growing serious and, let me tell you, that's the very next step to being dull." -- Addison

262--Thailand: Mr. Elephant's Wild Ride
@ CherieSpotting     Dec 15 2004 - 20:53 PST
cherie writes: During our 3-day trek in the hill-tribes, Diane carried her pack the entire way. I decided to support the local economy and pay $5 a day for a porter. Hilda was mixed; she lugged her pack around one day, and then came to her senses and hired a porter for the rest of the trek.

Being pack-free this gave me the free time to contemplate and focus on being in the present moment (instead of being sweaty and miserable like Diane.) Buddhist monks often meditate on koans. A popular koan is: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Since I solved that one when I stayed at a Buddhist monastery in Ireland, I’ve moved on to more modern koans such as: “If a man speaks in a forest, and a woman isn’t there to hear him, is he still wrong?”

In the quiet of the Thai jungle the only thing I could hear was the peaceful chatter of birds and the Ciao Tribe’s heavy breath. I stopped and watched our group ascend the hills with their orange life-jackets strapped to their backs; they looked like a coral snake slithering through the mist.

Glazed with sweat from trekking, we met the Karen, Lahu and Aka peope. Most of the hill-tribes have fled to the Thai hills from neighboring Myanmar. I wish I could speak to them and tell them that my step-dad is Burmese.

Leighton didn’t plan well for the trek and ran out of cigarettes on Day 1. (Against the advice of Yorham, he’s are still smoking.) Luckily the hill-tribe people have taught him how to make cigarettes from local weeds, which I am sure his lungs appreciate.

Sometimes during the trek I would fantasize that a vending machine was right around the next bush or around the next bend. But there would only be more hills or spiders. Kirsty, a bug lover who trekked in her own supply of Diet Coke, made sure I photographed every creepy insect along the trail—all of the bugs were jungle-sized.

After trekking to the highest point, the Ciao Tribe sat down for a much needed rest. “I smell like a rotten pig,” said Hannah. “But you look good,” I reminded her.

Diane and Hilda broke out the fried-pork-skins to snack on, which made most of the Ciao Tribe gag (especially the vegetarians!) However, the twins were a big hit with the locals who loved the low-carb pig-skin snack!

When the “trail” ended, we had two options to get to the next village: a bamboo raft or an elephant. We chose the elephants and I rode on the elephant’s head and tucked my legs behind its floppy ears. (Since I am blessed with extra natural butt-padding, the ride was quite comfortable for me.) Hannah, who has a much smaller booty than me, was hurting by the end of the ride. We ended the day with a $3 Lahu-massage and I learned I was much more flexible than I ever imagined.

The next day Diane, Hilda and I donated our trekking hats to our favorite Aka tribe-lady. The Aka women wear their own traditional highly-beaded funky hats, but we wanted to give her a gift. The Aka woman was extremely grateful but looked as if she wanted to say: “Your hats sure look funny.”

Click on each picture to see it full size.

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Cherie and Hannah travel to the next hill-tribe village on an Elephant in Northern Thailand.

Cherie and Hannah travel to the next hill-tribe village on an Elephant in Northern Thailand.

We have to cross that bridge?

We have to cross that bridge?

This is how you do it.

This is how you do it.

Hannah crossing.

Hannah crossing.

Edna takes her chances with the leeches and walks across.

Edna takes her chances with the leeches and walks across.

Crossing the bridge. *Photo by Kirsty.

Crossing the bridge. *Photo by Kirsty.

Hilda makes it look easy.

Hilda makes it look easy.

The Hilda crossing. *Photo by Lee.

The Hilda crossing. *Photo by Lee.

It's all about balance.

It's all about balance.

Thailand--where two logs equals a bridge.

Thailand--where two logs equals a bridge.

Safe on the other side, no one falls in.

Safe on the other side, no one falls in.

Cherie and the twins.

Cherie and the twins.

Mosquito breading ground?

Mosquito breading ground?

One guide stops for a cigarette break.

One guide stops for a cigarette break.

Another guide stops to cool off.

Another guide stops to cool off.

Let's trek on.

Let's trek on.

Diane holds up strong.

Diane holds up strong.

The trail ends and we have to go the rest of the way on elephants.

The trail ends and we have to go the rest of the way on elephants.

Leighton and the twins.

Leighton and the twins.

The girls.

The girls.

Choices to the next village: Bamboo raft or elephant?

Choices to the next village: Bamboo raft or elephant?

Let's go for the elephant.

Let's go for the elephant.

Hilda's loving it!

Hilda's loving it!

Sexy Leighton.

Sexy Leighton.

The ladies have a beer in the river.

The ladies have a beer in the river.

Bamboo raft.

Bamboo raft.

Relaxing in cold water with a warm beer.

Relaxing in cold water with a warm beer.

Our guide playing the guitar. *Photo by Yorham.

Our guide playing the guitar. *Photo by Yorham.

First they have to wash the elephants. *Photo by Yorham.

First they have to wash the elephants. *Photo by Yorham.

All clean! *Photo by Yorham.

All clean! *Photo by Yorham.

No wonder he has a headache. *Photo by Yorham.

No wonder he has a headache. *Photo by Yorham.

Round up the elephants!

Round up the elephants!

Time to board the elephants! *Photo by Edna.

Time to board the elephants! *Photo by Edna.

Don't forget your life-jacket in case you fall off. *Photo by Lee.

Don't forget your life-jacket in case you fall off. *Photo by Lee.

Kirsty and Leighton.

Kirsty and Leighton.

All aboard!

All aboard!

And the twins are off.

And the twins are off.

Bye Lynn and Yorham.

Bye Lynn and Yorham.

Cherie rides behind the elephant's ears. *Photo by Hannah.

Cherie rides behind the elephant's ears. *Photo by Hannah.

Can you see the guy running across the bridge?

Can you see the guy running across the bridge?

Elephant snack. *Photo by Lee.

Elephant snack. *Photo by Lee.

Kirsty and Leighton.

Kirsty and Leighton.

Lee and Amanda.

Lee and Amanda.

Welcome to the jungle.

Welcome to the jungle.

Hannah rides shot gun.

Hannah rides shot gun.

Watch out--your face might freeze that way!

Watch out--your face might freeze that way!

Elephant fun. *Photo by Lee.

Elephant fun. *Photo by Lee.

The twins. *Photo by Lee.

The twins. *Photo by Lee.

Wading through the river.

Wading through the river.

Hannah looks back.

Hannah looks back.

Edna floats by on a bamboo raft.

Edna floats by on a bamboo raft.

Kirsty and Leighton.

Kirsty and Leighton.

The river crossing.

The river crossing.

Now that we've arrived at our new village, the locals say farewell.

Now that we've arrived at our new village, the locals say farewell.

Welcome!

Welcome!

Hannah looks around: "I don't see a Hermie's here." *Photo by Lee.

Hannah looks around: "I don't see a Hermie's here." *Photo by Lee.

Aku woman.  It's just plain too hot to wear that hat.

Aku woman. It's just plain too hot to wear that hat.

Now that's what I call cool head-gear.

Now that's what I call cool head-gear.

Peeling bamboo.

Peeling bamboo.

Our new hut for the night.

Our new hut for the night.

Anyone need a new belt?

Anyone need a new belt?

Edna relaxes with a Lahu massage.

Edna relaxes with a Lahu massage.

After 2 days of Trekking, a massage is just what the doctor ordered.

After 2 days of Trekking, a massage is just what the doctor ordered.

Those aching muscles disappear. *Photo by Hannah.

Those aching muscles disappear. *Photo by Hannah.

New kids to play with.

New kids to play with.

Lee and Yorham play with the kids.

Lee and Yorham play with the kids.

Let's play music!

Let's play music!

Everyone plays to the same beat. *Photo by Hannah.

Everyone plays to the same beat. *Photo by Hannah.

The ladies with our guide Sunny.

The ladies with our guide Sunny.

This isn't going to be a quiet night, is it?

This isn't going to be a quiet night, is it?

This is how you do it! *Photo by Hannah.

This is how you do it! *Photo by Hannah.

Sunny gives us a lesson.

Sunny gives us a lesson.

Lynn, Kirsty and Hilda.

Lynn, Kirsty and Hilda.

Diane, Hannah and Kirsty.

Diane, Hannah and Kirsty.

By the campfire.

By the campfire.

Hanging out.

Hanging out.

Magic Tricks! *Photo by Hannah.

Magic Tricks! *Photo by Hannah.

In the Lahu tribe, it's all about family.

In the Lahu tribe, it's all about family.

Baby Lahu.

Baby Lahu.

Lahu man swaddles his baby. *Photo by Hannah.

Lahu man swaddles his baby. *Photo by Hannah.

Cute Lahu girl wearing local "sunscreen". *Photo by Hannah.

Cute Lahu girl wearing local "sunscreen". *Photo by Hannah.

Our communal hut from the outside. *Photo by Edna.

Our communal hut from the outside. *Photo by Edna.

My hut is your hut.

My hut is your hut.

Leighton and Kirsty.

Leighton and Kirsty.

There's no place like home.

There's no place like home.

Aku woman. *Photo by Yorham.

Aku woman. *Photo by Yorham.