Thursday, September 5, 2013

River Rafting

Anyhow, we all made it to the river one way or another.  There was a nice bamboo hut overlooking the river where I sat to wait on the others, and wrote blog posts for a while.  

I wasn't sure how good an idea rafting was with my back, but it would have been very difficult to go back with the group any other way (our truck was waiting for us at the end of the rafting trip, on the other side of the river), and besides, I hated to just give up on all the fun stuff.  

Surprisingly, it wasn't bad.  We were on those big inflatable boats, so it was a cushioned seat.  The only difficulty was that there were times when we were supposed to quickly throw ourselves into the boat and then quickly get back on the side to keep rowing.  I could get down reasonably fast, but it took a while to get back up as I had a limited range of movement. 

We did have a funny moment not long after we got out in the water.  We had a boy who looked nineteen or so who was our leader on the raft.  We got out in the middle of the river, and he looked down into the bottom of the boat with a thoughtful expression for a minute.  Then he suddenly flopped face down into the bottom of the boat, with his legs sticking up, hanging off the back.  He pulled out the inflation nozzle and started puffing furiously into it.  We looked a bit askance--an inflatable boat designed for six people, and he's going to air it up by mouth?  We started looking around for a leak somewhere, and we found a pinprick where air was bubbling out near our feet.  

He puffed for a minute, then popped back up as if nothing had happened.  The pin prick was very small; it would probably take a couple of hours to make any real difference, and we were just going on a twenty minute or so trip.  Besides, the river wasn't that deep or wide; if worse came to worse, we could just swim to shore.  It didn't slow us down any.  

We went through a couple of areas with rapids, which was fun.  I wouldn't mind going on a little bit longer rafting trip someday.  

Just before we reached the end, we got out of the boat onto some bamboo rafts.  Riding bamboo rafts had been in the original plan for the trip, but Johnnie had told us that we probably wouldn't do that because it wasn't any good this time of year, in the rainy season.  The water was too high or some such for bamboo rafts.  But, here we were anyhow, and we'd rather have just left it out.  The bamboo rafts were floating, but not quite on top of the water. We were sitting about two inches or so into the rather muddy water, with dead bugs and junk and who knows what swirling around.  Susie, who was in front of me, made the comment, "Well, this is a yeast infection in a cup right here."  Anyhow, we drifted lazily along the shore for a hundred feet or so, and then got out.  I was at the back, so that left me to climb out on the muddiest section of the bank.  Lovely.  

Anyhow, once back on dry land, we were reunited with all of our junk that Johnny had been holding for us.  There were showers at the place there, but of course mine didn't work.  The shower did nothing at all when turned on.  There was a second nozzle over a large plastic trash can, already filled with water.  I turned the knob, and it tilted crazily to the side and started gushing water down inside the concrete block wall.  There was a scoop in the can of water, so I used some of that water to rinse the mud off my feet and legs, but I didn't want to dump water that could have been sitting there awhile over my head.  I didn't figure I'd really feel clean until I got back to the hostel, anyhow.  

Next up was lunch; we were served some version of pad thai; I was a bit worried at first as I didn't care much for it the first time around (too many peanuts), but they seemed to have skimped on the peanuts in this one.  They also provided a bottle of chili sauce, so with a liberal application of that it was quite edible.  We also had more plates of the wonderful local pineapples.  

We waited around for a good while after lunch for who-knows-what-now, and finally we piled into the truck to head back to Chiang Mai.  We had picked up three more people into our group for the day, for a total of eleven.  Nine people piled onto the benches in the back, and Saori and I were crammed into the back seat of the truck (I've been out of the US too long--what do you call that again?  Extended cab?), while Johnny sat up front with the driver.  It was alright, but a little cramped sitting sideways (no leg room) for over an hour.  

Once we got back to town, we zigzagged around dropping people off wherever they happened to be staying.  I was lucky yet again---mine was the last stop.  It was wonderful to finally get back and take a shower, though.  

As soon as I was clean and rested just bit, I headed back out by the north gate of the old town.  The farther I walked, the more I felt like a weight was pushing me down.  Even my lightened purse seemed too heavy.  But, I hadn't seen any pharmacies closer to the hostel.  Once I found one, I bought a supply of ibuprofen and a small jar of tiger balm--those would be my constant companions for the next few days.  The pharmacy just happened to be right next door to Three Little Pigs, the Southern restaurant I'd found my first night, so I treated to myself to more fried okra, some creamed corn, fried sweet potatoes (sadly flavorless), and fried shrimp.  I feel bad wasting food, but it was way more than I could possibly eat.  I wish I could get more of that okra, though... 


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