Christmas morning 2019 had arrived. We had a great breakfast at La Mai hotel and together with our office manager in Chiang Mai and her family we left for a unique trek (specially adapted for younger kids) to the Karen tribe in the Mae Wang district. This is about a 90 min. drive from the heart of Chiang Mai.

First stop was a visit to a local wet market and our guide, Khun Yawan asked us what we wanted to eat for lunch. Thai food only of course, but oh my, what a range of options here: fresh fish, shrimps, veggies, pork belly, herbs and spices!

Another one-hour drive brought us to the top of the Mae Wang area where the famous temple Wat Prathat Doi Thu marked the beginning of our walk through the jungle.

It was a warm Boxing Day……and it was a great, fairly light, trek straight through the jungle. Our guide explained us what we were seeing and where we were heading.

After a 90 min walk downhill, we started to see the local Karen Village in the distance where our guide was born……some 37 years ago. He was bringing us to his own village, what a treat indeed!

Once we had arrived, we walked around and met with the locals. We were able to chat a little and meet with the village head; we were explained how they live by their own rules in their own community; we were all blessed in a local ‘baci-ceremony’; a celebration of an auspicious event; in this case us visiting them.

Fortunate and happy we continued to our lunch area. Here the family used old school charcoal cooking to prepare a delicious lunch. A little cold beer made it the best Christmas lunch ever… full stop.

It was time to say farewell to our guide’s father and family who had spoiled us so much. We drove for about 20 minutes and stopped at a great little spot on the river. We were given life jackets and were asked to sit on a bamboo raft, three per raft. A very skilled local navigated us through the river and rapids. Was it coincidence that the only rain of December 2019 was just falling that half hour while we were on the river..? It was becoming even a little cold……

Luckily at the end of the adventure (including even a local raft selling cold beers!) we arrived at a little restaurant where we were given towels and we changed into dry clothing which we had brought along.

Then we hopped onto the minivan for our last ride down and back to Chiang Mai. On the way we were greeted by a hailstorm! I had never witnessed one in Thailand in the last 23 years, let alone my son of 8 who had never seen one at all.

We got all excited and made some last photos before we made it safely back to the hotel where a much needed warm bath was waiting…

Andre (& Ayden!) van der Marck