Walk, Eat, Swim, Eat, Trek, Eat, and Climb, Climb, Climb (Haven't They Ever Heard of Switchbacks?!) - Page 2

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The next day, we stopped for lunch (and yes, much of this trek revolved around the delicious meals as much as it did putting one foot in front of the other) at a waterfall with tiers of pools cascading down the hillside. The water was chilly but refreshing after our uphill trek and we wasted no time in plunging in.

We returned from our refreshing dip to find Roong and Bonyun sitting under a tree, reading in the cool afternoon air. Roong read The Teachings of Buddha and Bonyun, The Bible.
Our lunch was packed in a banana leaf bundle. Inside, two hard-boiled eggs and brown rice. To add flavor, Roong provided fish sauce and a bag of chilies.

Then we got back on the trail. At times, the big boulders jutting out of the side of the earth—not unlike those in upstate New York—lulled me into the illusion that I was only a few hours from New York City. However, the teak and bamboo trees, not to mention the occasional off-duty wandering elephant, provided enough Thai realism to break me from my home-grown reverie.

After pushing ourselves for miles through the region's verdant forest, we arrived at the Karen village where, much to our relief, Roong announced we'd spend the night. We dropped our packs and hurried to bathe before the sun went down, taking the day's heat with it. As one would guess, there's no hot water. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the villages had bathrooms: a hole in the ground and a spigot faucet. Hardly a porcelain Shangri-La, complete with perfumed waters and sea-shell-shaped soap, but enough for a brisk shower and a touch of privacy—with the exception of the occasional chick or puppy running through.

Refreshed, we were ready for one of the most special times of the trek—dinnertime. We added our shoes to the array of colorful sandals on the step in accordance with hilltribe custom and stepped inside.

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