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Thread: Your unseen Thailand
07-10-05, 08:34 AM #1
Well, the title of the forum speaks for itself: can you recommend places you liked that are out of the way, off the maps, and not in the guidebooks? Photos are especially welcome, and so are stories of getting lost unintentionally :-)
(Thailand was meant to be with a big T, sorry.....)
07-10-05, 08:48 PM #2
C'mon, all of you 60 guys just came here for tips, but you don't have any? :-)
ok, I think my best try at getting off the map was the rafting trip from Pai to Mae Hong Son. back then Pai was not so touristy, and it was low season, so only the three of us joined the two-day adventure, complete with comfortable paddling, a few rapids, swimming in a relatively calm stretch of the stream, watching birds, hearing monkeys. We had a shower in a small ice-cold waterfall (I'm always wondering how come these streams are soooo cold in that heat!, which is still one of my favourite memories - it was a spiritual experience, really. The guides picked some weeds from the water to go with the fried rice for dinner. They didn't speak much - it was two days of quiet, peace and reflection, no drinking, no partying as with some of the treks. We slept at very simple bamboo huts out there in the middle of nowhere, or rather on platforms with a roof. The guides had a small Buddha image in the woods near the overnight camp (really thick jungle it was) and they were lighting candles and incense sticks, and I remember I was scared stiff they would burn down the entire jungle. For I while we could hear all those unfamiliar voices and I couldn't sleep. Then the monsoon rain started thundering down heavily, put out the candles and the noises of the animals. The river had risen one metre by the morning. I would have wanted to stay a week or so more, just for that peace.
and I wasn't even completely off the map :-)
10-10-05, 05:42 PM #3
That sounds interesting, Betti. Although I haven't tried it, I heard that rafting on the rapids can turn out to be unexpectedly dangerous. Which season did you try it?
I also stood under waterfalls in the mountains, it's really cold! A nice change after the everyday heat. One time I climbed up really high on one of these falls, to get to the source of the water. I found it... although you'd expect that it's colder at the source, and it gets warmer as it reaches the bottom, that was not the case. Or at least I couldn't detect any difference.
One memorable time when I got 'off the map' was around the Mekong in Isaan. I spent a few months in that northeastern region, in a tiny village. It was quite interesting to see that kind of lifestyle, but this itself was no big deal - any old geezer with a bought isaan wife can do that.
A Thai English-teacher and I became close friends. Unlike his colleagues, he spoke excellent English, and was keen on learning more. I, on the other hand, wanted to know more about the Isaan lifestyle, which he didn't hesitate to share with me.
Anyway, one time he took me to his home village near the Thai-Lao border. I'm not sure if I could call it a village; it was a tiny community right in the Mekong estuary. Everyone in the village shared the same family name; they were all related, like clans of the old times.
He showed me around in the village, then we went to his parents' house. My friend's mom made chicken soup for us - home style. Not some frozen stuff from the supermarket; this chicken was running around on the yard the day before we came!
Every part of the animal was used in the soup; head, neck, interal organs, feet; everything except the feathers. Just like back home! (Az otthoni tyukhuslevesben nekem leginkabb a tarej, agyvelo es sziv izlett. Es Neked?) Compare this with the American who was shocked when she found a fried chicken head in a KFC takeout. Wussies.
We ate on mats placed on the floor, and I dug into the meal with my fingers, just like my hosts. I told them how much I like it, and that it reminds me of home food. ("delicious" in Isaan lingo is <span style='font-size:13pt;line-height:100%'>แซบ</span>.)
To top off the day, my friend took me to the water. A large body of water started right next to their house, and disappeared in the thick green wall of vegetation in the distance. I don't know what to call it; part of it was a lake, other parts looked like swamp, intersected by flowing currents twisting amongst the trees and grasses.
Here I should mention that my friend was a professional longboat-racer. His team won many competitions, and he owns a few of these boats. We took out a smaller one and put it to water. It is made of wood, it's very narrow, like a canoe, but the nose and tail are shaped flat on the top.
Unlike the paddling boats that I used in the lake in Europe where I grew up, this boat needs a single paddle. (Kicsit ugy ereztem magam, mint egy bizonyos tuskevari regenyhos, haha). Since this time there were two of us in the 'kayak', one of us paddled, while the other one steered.
I tried both, but my previous boating experience didn't help much with this style. It was enough to prevent me from being totally incompetent, but it was still embarrassing. He just let out a kind laugh, and took over. He made the boat glide on the surface of the water so smoothly as if it was sliding on ice, and yet, he navigated even the narrowest passageways effortlessly.
By the time we turned back, the sun was setting down. We saw the siluette of another boat with a lone figure throwing a net into the water and waiting. He was fishing. My friend hollered over, and they talked briefly. We had some snack on the water too: on the way back, we picked some overgrown lotus flowers, broke them and ate the seeds.
Overall, it was a great experience, and something no tourist has ever done, I think. One of my nicest memories in Thailand.
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