As my sneakers squished through the black mud and flooded trail I began to wonder why this adventure had not been designated optional. The trail through the jungle was exactly what it said it was. The lead trail guide was using his 9 inch machete to swipe fast growing vines from the narrow trail. Walking between the dense forest was a challenge with a walking stick, however the stick came in handy as we started to climb the side of a limestone mountain. There was not much mud on the trail at some points and we needed to grab branches and use the walking stick to balance and move forward.
Just when the sweat was dripping heavily into my eyes from the climb, relief was up ahead in the form of a dark cave. Lucky for us we had flashlights on our heads so we could see where we were going. We were warned to watch for bats. One did fly very close to my head and I flinched, just a bit. After we got through the cave we resumed our muddy trek and it started to rain.
Soon we came to a clearing with a small thatched roof cabana. Nit and Nek, our young male guides, removed their backpacks and began gathering wet twigs to start our fire. This was going to take a while I thought, and it did. While Nit was working on the fire, Nek began wrapping rinsed rice into green leaves. He poked holes in the leaves, placed them in a hollow bamboo branch with some water and leaned it over the small fire. He used a second bamboo branch to cook coconut milk and green curry with chunks of chicken. Nek built a second small fire and used a frying pan to make an omelet and then stir fry some vegetables.
Finally they skewered some large pieces of chicken on a stick and leaned it over the fire that was slowly going out. Beam, our travel guide, scurried off into the nearby forest in search of more damp twigs. The 3 of us awkwardly wandered from the smoke filled cabana area to the cooking area in the light rain.
The cabana area, while it did have seats, was being overtaken by tiny ants, noisy frogs, large grasshoppers and giant spiders. Meanwhile the chicken was not cooking. I wanted to go home. It was dark. I was wet. I was hungry and I really don’t like giant spiders. I’m thinking, I am a widow and should not be doing this to myself!
Thankfully I didn’t have to go to the bathroom during this 3 1/2 hour trek and dinner adventure because I am sure I would not have walked off into the jungle by myself. Finally the chicken was finished and I admit the meal was good but we were really hungry. We ate quickly and politely tried some exotic fruits for dessert.
We packed up our stuff and were almost back on the trail when Nit stopped short and let out a Yelp. He had walked right into a giant spider web, with a local resident giant spider. Get me out of here!
We scrambled back an easier way toward the Anurak Community Lodge and our bungalows. I couldn’t wait to peel off my stinky, wet, bug sprayed, ripped elephant pants and rain jacket. The shower was a relief and the air conditioned rooms were a delight. The bathrooms and showers were outside under a roof that could easily welcome critters. We kept the bathroom door closed and secured our selves inside our mosquito netted beds.
As I lay down and looked up I saw a small lizard on the ceiling. He looked at me and made a loud laughing noise. I did not think this was funny.
We woke up early for a drive through the jungle to visit the Rakswarin Hot Springs. We were the first tourists of the day but taken aback by the dozen or so military soldiers posing for photos by the hot springs. It turns out the governor of the province was visiting these hot springs as well and drew quite a crowd. Each of the 4 mineral hot springs was a different temperature, even one that claimed to be able to boil eggs. I did not try that one.
We stopped to take pictures along the drive and also witnessed a sad elephant standing by the side of the road with a basket on his back waiting to take tourists on rides. It made us want to call Lova from the rescue center in Chiang Mai and send her here to save this poor guy.
Back at our lodge, which looked like a scene from the movie Jurassic Park, we sat in the main open air lodge and read all afternoon. The electric was off for the day but the kitchen staff still managed to make us some pad Thai and serve wine for lunch.
I thought about Mike and how we liked luxury all inclusive vacations that didn’t require much work. I am so sad by the loss of my husband but thrive by the experience of travel and adventures here in Thailand. I know he wanted to travel and I hope he is here with me.
After this experience we will be happy to get wifi tonight, if the power comes back on, and then head to the west coast beach tomorrow morning.