Spending my last few days in Thailand at the Bamboo Nest was the only thing I had actually booked in advance before leaving for my trip. The idea of spending a few days in a bamboo hut in the middle of the jungle was captivating, and the rave reviews of the place only solidified this. I had to do this. So, after my time in Chiang Mai, I took a minibus to Chiang Rai for the final leg of my journey.
The owners offer a free pickup service from the downtown bus station, and thank goodness they do. When I say the middle of the jungle, I really do mean the middle of the jungle. The ride took about 45 minutes in the back of the owner- Nok’s, Ford truck. This was an adventure in itself. The further we drove from civilization, the more natural beauty started to reveal itself. We drove through rice paddies, hot springs, elephant camps, and local hill-tribe villages. At one point, I swear our vehicle was almost vertical because of how steep the hills were. A real life roller coaster! This required real skill on Nok’s part. It was quite amazing watching this tiny Thai lady operating her big truck up the steep hills.
Once we arrived at our destination, the other new guests and I were shown our huts. I was Hut #2. No lock on the door. Perfect. No sarcasm intended here, it truly was perfect. It felt safe, and brought back memories of my time spent at camp. After putting my belongings in my new home for the next 2 days, I made my way to the dining area. This was an open air area with wooden benches and tables, overlooking the the rolling hills in the distance. They explained how the meals and food work. Every “hut” has 1 pad of paper kept in the dining area, where you write down what you want to eat (at least 2 hours in advance) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There were also snacks (chips, nuts, etc) and drinks (water, beer, pop, tea) accessible at any time. This worked on the honour system. If you took a bottle of water, or a snack, you simply wrote it down on the same pad of paper, and at the end of your stay you would pay for everything. Simple things like this- situations that still put faith in humans and strangers, bring me so much joy.
The other new guests and I (2 Aussies and a Dutch man I can now call friends), took a look at the menu’s and proceeded to write down our orders. Unfortunately I was still not fully recuperated, so I opted for a rice and veggie dish. This was progress, though! My new friends and I chatted while waiting for our food, greeting the other guests who had already been staying at the Bamboo Nest a couple days. Asking the usual questions: where are you from, how long have you been in travelling, where have you been so far in Thailand, and so on. After dinner, we headed to the fire pit, where we spent the next evening as well. We continued to chat and it wasn’t long before the other owner, Noi, came by with snacks. They were sweet potatoes, which he threw in the fire, and would take out in 20 minutes. Once they were ready, he took them out using some sticks. Not having been wrapped in any foil like were used to back home, the skins of the potatoes were grey with charcoal. We slowly peeled the skin off the hot potatoes, trying not to burn ourselves in the process. Fire roasted sweet potatoes- a delicious midnight snack! The sweet potatoes are actually much different here in Korea and in Thailand, maybe all of Asia perhaps. Instead of being orange-y/brown on the outside, and bright orange on the inside, they have purple skin and yellow insides. Tastes very similar, if not better than the ones back home!
The next day was spent exploring our surroundings, first- on a longtail boat. We walked down the steep hill for about 2 kilometres until reaching the water, where we met our boat driver. From there, we enjoyed the leisurely boat ride, taking in all the surroundings, until our first destination. We first stopped at one of the Akha hilltribe villages, where we caught a glimpse into their daily life. Bamboo huts with thatched roofs, wild pigs basking in the sun, that surely wont be “pets” for very much longer. Our second stop was a rickety bamboo bridge, with a clear warning sign that it was under repairs. The reluctance we were feeling quickly passed, as we watched one of the local people zoom by us on a scooter onto the bridge, with their child on the back. If it can hold a scooter, it can hold us! Our last stop was the natural hot springs- mmmm sulphur! If the smell couldn’t get egg-y enough already, you could actually buy raw eggs and boil them in the hot spring. Neat!
After making our way back to the Bamboo Nest, the rest of the day was spent relaxing in the hammock, enjoying fresh pineapple and reading a book. Such a peaceful place, with amazing owners who truly put their heart and soul into the place. I’m glad I ended my time in Thailand here- (almost) recovered and ready to take on the Philippines!
Korea Update: HAPPY WEEKEND!!! Yes, I know it’s only Tuesday. This week marks a special holiday in Korea, Lunar New Year! Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are all national holidays. How will I be spending my 5 day weekend? In Seoul of course! I’ve been in Korea for almost 4 months now (what the heck…..), and now I finally have the perfect opportunity to go check out the big city. Pictures and a blog post to follow, of course!