Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Downstream without a paddle

Put on your safety helmets because we feel like we have A LOT to tell you!!

So we last left you after ATVing. After that adventure we began planning for our next trekking adventure- a cooking class just seemed too tame after off-roading!! So we had planned to do another trek in Chiang Mai and then head over to Laos where we were going to visit an Elephant Village. However getting into and out of Laos in a pain in the butt!! You either have to take the 2 day slow boat plus a one day bus ride or pay $300 to fly. Unfortunately for us time and money are not on our side so Laos got das boot. It was a very tough decision to make, but getting into and Laos would have taken us a week of travel alone. We were upset that we wouldn’t get to visit that particular elephant village- but Chiang Mai has some very sustainable and humane elephant farms as well so we weren’t too upset. Then we found out the best elephant farm which had been recommended to us by 2 different people- had no availability while we were in Chiang Mai. So we were bummed but we knew we would find something and we couldn’t be too upset because the next morning we were leaving for a 2 day zip-lining and white water rafting adventure.

So we got picked up at our hotel bright and early and set off for our “Flight of the Gibbons” adventure. Amazing Race Asia went to this place on one of their seasons- so we thought it must be pretty cool. Well we were right!! We got to the site after about an hour’s drive and were greeted by the workers. Once we filled out our paperwork saying we wouldn’t sue them if we died we got harnessed up and were ready to fly thru the rainforest. The workers were jokesters and must have come to a collective decision that we would be their muse for the day. There was a fake haircut, jokes about blind guides,, and fake falls all day.

They drove us out to the rainforest and we walked up to the first platform. Standing here above all the trees they gave us our safety talk- it was a little scary! Once they gave us the talk they were ready to let us lose on the course. They decided “The Kates” would be the first victims! They hooked us up to 2 safety lines, told us to keep our legs up and to not touch the line and basically pushed us off the platform. We went through a series of 10 zip lines, 2 sky bridges and 3 ab-sails. The zip lines were a lot of fun!! We have a video of one of the lines and we will post ASAP! There was even a zip line we got to do together and that was pretty stinking funny!! Apparently other people handle adventure sports very calmly and do not make a big deal. Well the Kates are not quite that way- we like to scream and yell and woo and say “oh my god”. The entire time we are either smiling or laughing while everyone else just stands there composed and demure. OK to the zip line were really cool and the one guide “Ken” would make us do all these funny poses so he could take our picture. The sky bridges weren’t too scary or exciting but cool none the less! The absails- ohhhh the absails they were probably the scariest of all. Basically you step off the platform and are propelled down by rope onto a platform much further down. Now Ken thinks its funny to just drop you and make you scream and then about halfway down he just holds you in midair for awhile. It was crazy!! We had a great time on the course and Ken took some hysterical pictures of us which we will post!!

After zip lining we went back to the office and had lunch before they sent us out to a waterfall. We trekked all the way up the waterfall- it was really high and the steps were kind of scary but we made it up in one piece- I mean we are triathletes! Once up at the top we sat and contemplated life for a second or two before Caitlin dropped her sunglasses into the stream. We then spent a good 5 min trying to get the glasses back using a stick and luckily we were successful! We headed back down the mountainside and went back to the office where were were told it was time for our Thai massages. Now we didn’t realize we were getting massages so we were pretty excited. That excitement lasted all of five minutes into the massage when we realized that Thai massages hurt!! These women poke and prod and pull and push your limbs in different directions and it was not the least bit relaxing. There even might be bruises.

After our massage we were brought to our homestay. Let us tell you a bit about Pong’s house. Well for starters we thought we were staying at a lodge called Homestay not at some strangers house. We were mistaken. We were brought 2km uphill to Pong’s house where we were told dinner is at 6, breakfast at 8 no hot water after 9, ohh and no one at the house speaks English. So Pong led us up to our “room”. the room was basically just a mattress covered square with a mosquito net and a light. At first we were really apprehensive but Pong was a great hostess and cooked us some fantastic Thai food!! It ended up being a very unique cultural experience!! (we video blogged our first impression of the homestay and we will post as soon as we can)

So after sleeping at Pong’s we headed out early this morning for white water rafting. We got in the car at 8:10 and were shuttled all over the Chiang Mai province until 11 when we arrived at the rafting site. They fed us a quick lunch and then we were ready to raft. Once again they gave us an intimidating demo and told us about people falling off the raft and how not to die or drown. We were told there were a few commands we had to master- on the job, forward, backward, lean, get down, all right, all left, right forward left reverse, left forward right reverse, jump and high five (which was when everyone in the boat would lift up their paddles and high five them together) Then they started dividing up the group and apparently our guide drew the short straw that morning because while all the other groups had 4 people and a guide in them ours just had the two of us and our guide. We got a quick in water demo and our guide seemed content enough with our lack of knowledge and experience and we set off to the rapids. We started in class 2 rapids (which we thought were exciting enough) and then headed down to class 4 rapids (which were scream worthy). Now we mentioned at zip-lining how we always seem to make a scene while other people remain calm and this little adventure was no different. I don’t think we closed our mouths the entire time. If we weren’t screaming we were laughing and we have pictures to prove it.

Luckily our guide seemed amused by us and at times he was laughing so hard he couldn’t tell us the commands. Our best command was the high -three (we didn’t have enough people for a high- five) and our guide quickly caught on to our personalities and would woo woo with us. Other commands however we were not so good at. We realized that when other boats were told to move left or right or backwards they would stand up and calmly reposition themselves. This is not how Kate and I did it though. Let me backtrack for a minute and tell you that just like zip-lining these guides were jokesters and once again we were their muse. Each time they would splash us we would scream louder then the time before. So after 1 or 2 rapids we were already soaked from the guides. This made it difficult to calmly move about the boat. So basically we just threw ourselves around the boat sliding into each other and the sides.

Our favorite part was when going down a class 4 rapid he told us to get down. We kind of looked at each other and shrugged- both forgetting what we were supposed to do so we decided we should just fling our bodies backwards over the partition and lay in the back of the boat with our feet up in the air while our guide navigated us down the crazy rapids. It was hard to get back on the job after that one- we think that might have been when Caitlin lost an oar. By the time we got to the next class 4 rapid we had all composed ourselves again and our guide told us to just move our butts backwards a little, not to fling ourselves to the back of the boat.

The benefit of being in a 3 man boat was that we didn’t weigh as much as the other boats and didn’t have to do as much work! In fact most of the rapids we just held on and screamed our way through where other boats would get stuck and have to jump their way out we would just cruise on by, splashing them as we went. After one particularly crazy rapid we got down to the bottom and there were just 2 elephants standing there chillin in the water- it was crazy! The scenery was pretty and we had a lot of fun- we want to do it again!! Apparently we are out-doorsy kind of girls!!

Once back in the city we had a hard time finding a hotel to stay in tomorrow night so we could go on a elephant trek. We were super stressed and tired and hungry but with the help of the lovely lady at the travel agency we have an elephant trek planned for tomorrow and a bed to sleep in after it! So tomorrow we go train elephants and then we are heading to Ko Lanta, an island off Thailand’s coast. We will update you on the elephants from the beach- till then keep leaving the love!!


  1. Helmets, you had on helmets!!! I'm so proud. You must have consumed a bunch of water though...your mouths are open in the majority of the picutres. But I bet you sure did have a great time and made your guides day!!! Good thing Santa also brought those water proof sneakers!!! I absolutely love hearing and seeing your both know its the journey, not the destination.

    Stay safe, have fun, miss and love you both

  2. And by the way, when you do a full screen of the photos, the guide is smiling in all of them!!! He must have been having a good time as well, you made his day!

  3. Oh what fun. You two are too funny. Can't wait to see the video. They natives might never be the same after you guys.

  4. You look frightened in EVERY picture and yes your tour guide is freakishly laughing in every picture!

    stay safe!

  5. Hi Kates what fun you are having. I don't think southeast Asia will ever be the same after you leave. You will be the talk of Asia for years. I love your adventures keep going. I am so proud of you both. Have bunches of fun. Love to both, AP

  6. Did notice your helmets. You guys facial expressions were priceless. You looked like you were going down a giagantic water slide in a theme park. These photos were incredible, your best yet. I also thought it was cool how you saw the elephant during your white water rafting adentures. I think people pick up immediately that the Kates are not your typical blonde subdued girls and the more u guys are egged on the more you two react.
    I am so glad you guys trained for the triathalon as you have referred multiple times. I am sure it has helped in all you adventures.
    This leg of the trip really sounds like its been a lot of fun and I've really enjoyed hearing about it. Looking forward to hearing about your next adventure.
    Love u both and remember safety first,

  7. You guys are a hoot. I finally got the blog address from Adrianna. What a joy to read all of your blog posts. You really brought Pub Street alive for me! And I felt your pain over leaving your yummy pastries on the bus. Can't wait for pics of the elephants. Stay safe. Love, Daria

  8. Ahahaha! Love the pictures! Did your butts hurt? I feel like your butts would hit a lot of bumps from the rocks and be really sore?!? Am I wrong?