For some reason on my backpacking trip to Thailand, my friends and I thought it would be a really unique and fun idea to take a three-day trek through the jungle about two hours outside Chiang Mai. As I hiked up the “baby” mountain, I was instantly regretting this decision. Only 30 minutes into the hike, I was drenched in sweat, I could feel the leeches that had crawled into the crevices of my hiking boots, and my 10 liter backpack suddenly felt like someone had packed it with bricks, “Did I really need to pack bottles of vodka?” There was no use for the voices in my head to answer, “because the answer is always to pack more vodka.” While I was free to complain to myself, I wouldn’t dare let any of my friends hear me. I was here to prove my friends and family at home wrong. I wasn’t just a princess; I could live on the strange food, sleep under the stars, and survive without my curling iron. After an hour of hiking, we finally arrived at the village we were to stay in for the night. But first, I had to take care of business; these leeches had to go. You would have thought someone was shot by how much blood there was. Leeches have a chemical in their saliva that prevents your blood from coagulating/clotting and scabbing. Some people bled for over an hour. But it wasn’t anything the vodka in my backpack couldn’t take our minds off of. Thank Buddha that I had brought the vodka.
That night, we slept in the large room of a bungalow all cuddled together. It was perfect, up until the early hours of the morning when the village’s rooster found contempt in his boredom and began to cock-a-doodle-doo loudly and repeatedly.
“Someone shut that bird up or he will cock-a-doodle-die.” I muttered to the group. “You’re obviously not a morning person,” a friend replied.
With the third bird call, everyone was awake and ready to continue the hike to the next village. Unfortunately, the vodka from last night wasn’t quite ready for me to go just yet. But there was no choice as we had a full day ahead of us, and if it was anything like yesterday, I could tell that I would be in trouble.
“Finally! Rest, water, food, shade, and some more water. It’s so hot. I need more water. More rest. Wait we’re getting back up to the trail already?! But... The water!” I whimpered to myself, as the vodka felt heavy on my shoulders.
We finally arrived to another village and lunch was served. This was not where we would be spending the night, however. From there, we would ride elephants to the next location, which was about an hour downstream.Then, we would ride on rafts made from bamboo to the next village in which we were to spend the evening.
“Elephants? Are they safe?” What an experience it was riding atop an elephant. Although, the wooden seat was really uncomfortable. There was no shade on top of the elephant, but at least I could drink water without having to stop. “Hey this is actually kind of fun! Wait, the elephant ride is over? Those are the rafts we’re going on? But my stuff will get wet. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t bring anything valuable.”
“Ahh, I love bamboo rafting,” I realized. The water in the river felt so good after two days of hiking and not showering. The brown water splashing against my skin while my friends paddled us down the river felt heavenly.
As we pulled up to the final village, piglets greeted us. Apparently, these piglets had a fetish for smelly jungle hiker’s boots. We had to keep our shoes in our bungalow at all times, or the pigs would run off with them. We placed our shoes out of reach of the pigs, sat down for dinner and – more vodka.
The night was relaxed and it was something we knew every person should experience at least once in his or her life. Complete darkness, complete aloneness, yet surrounded by good friends, good jokes, good memories, and good drink. Because isn’t that what life is all about? –– friends, memories, some good laughs, and of course... Vodka!