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Natalie's week!

By Natalie, Thailand Volunteer 5 years ago
Categories Chiang Mai

Monday morning. We set off at 7am and to my surprise start an uphill climb out of the village on the main road. Tong Dee, Mena and Sanjep have been moved from down the bottom of the forest. We soon turn off up a red dirt track and as it has been raining we start to collect the mud on the bottom of our shoes getting heavier and heavier with every step. The views from up the track are stunning as the sun shines and the rain holds off. We head off through the corn fields bags of bananas in hand for the Monday elephants feed. So far so good the terrain is relatively flat. Oh I thought it was to good to be true we are now into forest and head downhill to cross a small but slippery river and hike back up the other side we carry on walking for some time, we ask Gallape how much further he laughs and replies uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill. After two and a half hours we finally reach Tong Dee she beautiful and waits patiently as we take it turns to feed her bananas. We then move on to Sanjep who also waits graciously for bananasand finally we reach Mena. The elephants then walk off further into the forest and we try to follow and considering they move slowly they can certainly cover ground very quickly, we see them ahead crashing through the forest pulling down bamboo, happily eating on their way. We then had to head back the same way and what I challenge I found this hike, I had to dig deep my heart racing, lungs pumping and legs burning, eventually after six and a half hours we all finished the hike and I just wanted to cry with elation that I had made it.

Tuesday I had a bit of a chill out day, but did get a great night’s sleep after the hike the day before. We had been invited to take part in the village sports tournament as a volleyball team so we started a bit of practise about fifty percent of the team were afraid of the ball so taking part would be fun.

Wednesday it was back to baby hiking and oh I love them so much they are definitely my pace and this seems so much easier after Monday, the babies were great to all staying together. It’s the usual Bpee Mai and Mario show, Mario following and sticking as close to Bee Mai as possible, Lulu always in sight but doing her own thing and we follow them on their days wander through the forest. Mario has his usual little moment roaming between Lulu and Bpee Mai eventually settling with Bpee Mai. K We trek back as the heavens open and I retreat to my homestay for a cold bucket shower and a change of clothes, very refreshing. Afternoon we practise volleyball again oh the gola team have some work to do, it rains so we take cover and Kerri and I hang around for the villagers to turn up for practise and they allow us to join in and returning for dinner I feel really happy.

Thursday hike is a bit of a cheat but kindly Singtoe has still offered to take us to see the elephants, as the villagers have an event to attend, it’s kind of like a village fair people from the village and all other villages attend and there is fund raising and food. Singtoe drives us down to Cha Moon and Cham Suk and they are very comical today he gives them a heap of elephants grass each and Cha Moon eats at an amazing rate of knots and decides to help herself to her mother pile of grass, Cham Suk is not having this and tries to pick up as much grass as possible and move it from Cha Moons reach its quite comical. But she lets her more or less help herself. The mahouts believe that Cha Moon is about four to five months pregnant. Singtoe explains how she is moving much more slowly than normal and hoe sometimes she eats a huge amount and other times hardly anything, these are possible signs that she is pregnant. The two elephants move towards us and the mahouts move them back, I think the elephants are just being inquisitive. They carry on with the elephants grass and when they finish they head back into the forest and we get a lift back to base. We all head up my favourite pathway to the temple at the top of the hill there is a huge gathering and free food and drinks to try. They all seem to bring an offering which is a homemade tree decorated with money and treats, cups, plates and other gifts. The villagers then all gather round to pray at the temple.

Friday is bright and sunny and we all eventually wander up to watch the football and wait to be called for the volleyball. Our first match is against the little pinkies (a team of ten year old school girls about half our size) and all the villagers gather round to watch the Gola team. At first we hold our own and it’s 11-12 they soon take the lead and win the first half 25-12, we swop sides of the court and are thrashed, but it’s all good fun and we pose for a picture with them. We play are next round later in the day with the same result, but we are getting marginally better and have at least one more match tomorrow. We watch the football Huaypakood seem to win all their games, the married team have mixed results and the second team also do well. We return on Saturday but the weather is misty and drizzly, we play our final match and also lose however 25-20 and 25-12 is much more respectable. Huaypakood win the whole tournament for football on Sunday and Hauypakood first volleyball team come second, the weekend draws to a close.