Ban Tham – Soppong. Hiking with the motto “Impossible to get lost!”

I wanted to go to Soppong to visit the Cavelodge, I´ve heard from a lot of people that it is a great place to stay and they have hiking, trekking, caving and kayaking trips. I wanted to go there for trekking for a day or two. I arrived Soppong, and that´s really just a few guesthouses and a small market by the road. I tried to get a taxi from there to the lodge, but it was no way I was paying 300 baht for a car. I asked a nice woman at a restaurant where I had lunch, and she fixed me a taxi for 70 baht. It showed up to me a motorbike taxi – and a motorbike is actually what we call a scooter at home. I asked the guy if he really could take me, my big backpack, my small backpack and my small bag on the scooter – and that was off course “no problem!”. I like that whatever you´re up to in Thailand it is no problem. It´s amazing what they can stuff on a scooter!

Ban Tham – cave village – is in the mountains just about 30 km from the Burmese border. I got myself a nice bungalow there, met a bunch of nice people and had a really good time. John who runs the place have made a map over the area so it is possible to do some hiking on your own. Written on the map: steep, impossible to get lost, map not to scale. And we really experienced that…My plan was to do a guided trek, but I met some people who wanted to just go for daytrips, so we did.

Day one we went to a small Karen village. The roads were really steep, but it was a really nice trip. On the way back me, Nina and Duncan wanted to follow a path over the hills in stead of the road. It should be easy – just follow the obvious path. We followed a track, lost it, found another, ended up creeping on the cattle tracks in the bushes, and finally got our heads up and looked around – in the middle of bushes! Pushed trough it to get to the river, and there we found a new obvious path. It showed out not to be any better, but in the end we found the road – and followed the same road back in the end. We had a really nice workout.

Day two we talked to John and found a route to a Red Lahu village, we really couldn’t miss that path! The way back would be easy – just follow the river. So me and Nina decided to go there, and we met two other girls who wanted to join us – they really didn’t want to walk on their own getting lost. Haha. We didn’t really get lost. We lost the track for a while, ended up almost crawling down some steep parts on a tiny track, but we found the obvious path! We had a really nice walk to the village, but it was a bit longer than we thought, a steep path, and every time we thought we got to the top there was another one behind. The village was just a village. You think you are going to see something special when you walk for hours over the mountains to see a tribe village. When you get there they have a bit smaller houses, but still a lot of motorbikes, some trucks, big antennas and big tv screens in their small huts. We got a ride with a truck – we thought he was going all the way to our village, but in the middle of nowhere he stopped and said “bye, bye, I work here”. Free ride in the middle of nowhere is to good to be true…. So, 9 km back to our place, no water, steep hills. We were really ready for getting a truck all the way back! When a guy on a motorbike passed by he would get us a truck, and we managed to bargain it down to 800 baht, we knew we were really ripped of, but didn’t actually care, we were ready for our afternoon bananashake. So this guy came back with a truck, and it was already fully loaded with seven guys who wanted to see the farang girls – and a puppy. I guess they all were going shopping or having a party at some restaurant after their best deal for ages. We laughed of the guys, I guess they had a good laugh of us, so we all had a good time stuffed in the back of the truck.

The next day I went on a tour in Tham Lod with Nina and Duncan. We did a walk in three parts of the cave, and then went through it on a bamboo raft. The cave was so amazing, so big and a lot of patterns and formations. The guide was showing us stuff in the formation all the time, like crocodile, frogs, Buddha, waterfall. Its amazing how big everything was in there, and it went pretty high up also. I liked caving, and would really like to do a smaller cave also. But I had decided to take a bus the same day and have a quick stop in Pai for just a night, then go back to Chiang Mai.

About the Author Elin

I´m an Oslo based web publisher with passion for communication, travel and a green lifestyle. When I travel, I prefer to go slow, sustainable, and “live like a local”. Why slow? It is about challenging the cult of speed, and to enjoy the small things in life and to live in the present.

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