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Thread: Mai Ngao Adventure

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    Mai Ngao Adventure

    Being taken on an adventure by a tour company, and doing the same trip on your own are two separate things. Certainly there are similarities, but the rewards come from different pleasures. And, so it was on my first few trips into the Mai Ngao River valley of north western Thailand.
    After driving west from Chiang Mai for almost four hours, Mae Sariang is a natural stop for anyone traveling north, south, east or west.
    Last edited by Ian Forbes; 27th November 2013 at 03:16. Reason: Removal of pictures

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    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน RakThai's Avatar
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    Nice trip..
    How far from the Burmese border is this?

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    Watching one of the craftsmen construct a river boat from teak planks and using only hand tools is truly amazing.
    Last edited by Ian Forbes; 27th November 2013 at 03:16. Reason: Removal of pictures

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    Quote Originally Posted by RakThai View Post
    Nice trip..
    How far from the Burmese border is this?
    Not far, but there is a mountain range in between. Eventually, the Mae Ngao River joins the Salawan River that separates Burma from Thailand.
    Last edited by Ian Forbes; 27th November 2013 at 03:17. Reason: Removal of pictures

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    It is our tour groups plan to drive to the farthest village in the valley and fish the river back down to the park’s headquarters. We will stay three days in the valley and sleep in the various hill tribe villages along the way. Some of us will travel by bamboo raft down the river while a designated driver will bring the vehicle back down the road and meet us at the agreed upon village. The plan works perfectly and everyone gets a turn drifting or driving.
    Last edited by Ian Forbes; 27th November 2013 at 03:17. Reason: Removal of pictures

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    It is early February and in the middle of the dry season in Thailand. The Mae Ngao River is low and clear, and the narrow road up the valley is in reasonable shape, if barely being passable by high clearance vehicles is considered reasonable. There is only room for one vehicle at a time, and even meeting a motorbike coming the other way requires a stop and someone edging to the side so the other can pass. Meeting another truck coming the other way means a stop, a discussion and someone backing up to place where there is barely enough room to get by. We are lucky and this only happens a few times during the two hour journey covering only 40 km.
    Along the way we pass through tiny communities stuck to the side of the steep mountain valley. The huts are all the same. They are built on wooden poles cut from whole trees, and with wooden planks covering the walls. I learn later that most of the wooden planks are teak from the surrounding hillsides. The roofs are thatched with huge leaves of a particular variety that seem to last and hold out the water. That would explain the women and children I saw with big baskets full of leaves and carrying them on cloth bands strung over their forehead. The same baskets are used to carry firewood for cooking. Cooking fires are the only source of heat. There is no electricity in the valley, and the only lighting in the evening is from vehicle batteries that run for about an hour after it gets dark. Needless to say, everyone goes to bed early and gets up early.
    Last edited by Ian Forbes; 27th November 2013 at 03:18. Reason: Removal of pictures

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    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน RakThai's Avatar
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    Wonderful trip.. I will put it on my to-do list...555
    The local people, being christian, are they Thai or Karen?

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    Morning for the hill tribe people starts about 5 AM. A few of the villagers make the long trip into Mae Sariang or surrounding villages each day for work. Nobody needs an alarm clock. The abundant roosters crow all night long outside your bedroom window. They blare out their scratchy noise until the sun eventually peeks over the high hills in the valley. I learn that ear plugs can be a necessity for foreigners wanting a good night’s sleep. The crowing doesn’t seem to bother the locals, though; Thais have the ability to sleep through anything. Breakfast consists of a rice cereal that everyone seems to eat, and we are off on our fishing journey. We drive a short distance down the road to where a bamboo raft is anchored in the current below.
    Last edited by Ian Forbes; 27th November 2013 at 03:19. Reason: Removal of pictures

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    Organic AI Quarky's Avatar
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    Great pics Ian... I like this one especially...

    Where even the cattle are wary of farang... 555

    My only experience was in a pie making factory managing the gravy team


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    The pungent fragrance of native herbs fills my nostrils as I scramble down the steep, dust filled trail to the river. Long, rope-like vines hang from trees like a scene from a Tarzan movie. The bell-like notes from birds are the only sounds I hear other than the gurgle of the gentle rapid from the river below. Sunlight filters through the morning mist and gives the steep valley a golden, ethereal glow. The river is gin clear, but the algae covered rocks are a dark mosaic of flickering shadows, and hide whatever might be swimming in the current. The constantly changing light is what gives the stream its name… River of Reflections. It is only when I stop and watch intently with my Polarized glasses that I see them. There are hundreds of small, silver flashes caused by reflecting sunlight off the bright scales of feeding minnows. The river is alive with fish and I even catch one on a tiny fly.
    Last edited by Ian Forbes; 27th November 2013 at 03:19. Reason: Removal of pictures

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    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน RakThai's Avatar
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    When was this?
    malaria teritory for sure, did yo take any prophilaxis?

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    We drift down the river on bamboo rafts constructed entirely of natural materials. The bamboo raft is about 30 feet long and held together with a tough bark twine stripped from a local tree. There are two platforms of bamboo fastened crossways on top to raise us off water level. The only addition is the plastic pontoon seats we brought from home and lashed on the raft for extra comfort. The two local guides have been building these rafts and drifting the river for years. They know every inch of the river and don’t seem to have any trouble negotiating the few rapids we encounter. Wherever a tributary enters the main River we pass by Karen hill tribe villages, and the locals come down to watch these strange intruders waving thick white fishing lines in the air held aloft by long rods.
    Last edited by Ian Forbes; 27th November 2013 at 03:20. Reason: Removal of pictures

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    Quote Originally Posted by RakThai View Post
    When was this?
    malaria teritory for sure, did yo take any prophilaxis?
    I go every year. No problems so far and hardly ever see mosquitos.

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    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน RakThai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Forbes View Post
    I go every year. No problems so far and hardly ever see mosquitos.
    Not a fisherman myself (diver, watch, but not touch..), but love the trip, the scenery and the adventure!

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    Eventually, I catch a large mahseer on my personally designed tiny nymph pattern I use for trout back in Canada. It is a lovely fish of about four or five kilograms and I am thrilled. The mahseer puts up a tremendous battle that would rival any action I've had from any steelhead. It is just a matter of good luck that I manage to land it on a light, 4 pound test leader. And, it is all captured on film and video.
    Last edited by Ian Forbes; 27th November 2013 at 03:21. Reason: Removal of pictures

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    Quote Originally Posted by RakThai View Post
    Not a fisherman myself (diver, watch, but not touch..), but love the trip, the scenery and the adventure!
    I've become more of a photographer and movie maker in recent years. I can get more than enough fish for eating in Canada and I release most of what I catch unharmed. I don't keep anything in Thailand unless I know the resource can sustain a kill fishery. The local Thais everywhere else but the Mae Ngao valley use set lines, nets and electro-shockers to kill anything that swims. I can only attribute it to the Christian ministers who taught the locals there.

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    A year later I make a similar trip, but this time on my own without a guide. Getting there on my motorbike is an adventure in itself.
    Last edited by Ian Forbes; 27th November 2013 at 03:21. Reason: Removal of pictures

  18. #18
    Organic AI Quarky's Avatar
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    damn... a bear and Cobra tamer... 555
    My only experience was in a pie making factory managing the gravy team


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    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน RakThai's Avatar
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    Who took the last picture?

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    Uber Star Soi wanderer Uber Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน 1080's Avatar
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    Top story there Ian, love your work.
    Thanks

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