Trekking the Golden Triangle, visiting palaces, tea plantations, mountain waterfalls, feeding elephants, and falling and injuring myself on the return trek #11
I had already sold my bicycle and I had 2 weeks before my flight left. So I hopped on an overnight bus to Chiang Rai, far into the north of Thailand, near the Mekong river and Laos. Next morning I joined an all-day tour of of the north lands of Thailand. This included 3 palaces, a tea plantation, ruins, the actual golden triangle, an opium museum, a visit to the Karan village, and some great views of the Mekong valley from mountain tops. We were an international group, traveling in a van. Interesting travelers with a very knowledgeable guide.
Then I visited two local museums in Chiang Rai. One was the Hill Tribes museum, which covered the lives of the many different hill tribes in the area. I had no idea there were so many different groups, or that they were so different. The other museum was the Cultural Museum of North Thailand. A wonderful narrated a fascinating tour. There is simply so much to learn about on this wonderful planet.
I could not find anyone else to join me on a 3-day trek, so I took a bus to Phayao, to see the great swamp there, that is surrounded by mountains. I visited the sinking Buddhist monument on the Phayao Swamp. I was the only white person I saw for 3 days.
Then I returned to Chiang Mai. Here I joined a larger group of mostly young European trekkers on a vigorous 3-day climb into the mountains.
I was 70 years old and the next oldest person was 50. Added to that, I had my full 35 lb back pack while most of them were carrying light day packs. So I was the slowest person in the group. But I made it to the top.
We went swimming under two beautiful mountain waterfalls. When we were coming down, I lost my footing on a steep slope and severely sprained my left ankle. The young Europeans then carried my gear while the guide carved me a crutch out of bamboo. I made it down, of course, but with electric pain with each step. I was so impressed with how kind and helpful everyone in the group was to me, and how they literally carried my weight and helped me down the mountain.
This has been a wonderful trip, and now I am very ready to come home.