Akha Hilltribe

After going to the White Temple, we all crammed back into the pickup to drive through the mountain to Bon’s tribe. We make a pit stop at a market off the side of the road to pick up ingredients for dinner, where Tom watches a woman cut up a live fish.

Let me tell you about Tom. Tom is a disaster magnet, as we learned this trip. He’s absolutely perfect, and about as Brit as they come. He calls tank tops “vests”, cigs are “fags” and you’ll always find him with a “fag and a pint”. I can tell that we’re going to be really close. There are also two girls (Billie and Hayley) who are also from England. The two of them are a comedy duo, and Tom is the perfect combo to fit in with them.

Well, we get to the village and we’re all playing in the river until it’s time for dinner. When we are getting ready to eat, the cats begin to come out of hiding. Now, for any other person that isn’t a big deal. However, Tom is has a cat phobia and nearly died of a heart attack. He runs upstairs to where we we sleep and stays up there until the cats leave (they don’t leave). Cig in hand, he stands on the balcony watching all of us downstairs like a hawk.

Bon assured Tom that the cats are trained not to go upstairs where we sleep. The guys were supposed to sleep outside while the girls slept inside. But no surprise, the cats found their way upstairs. In Tom’s own words,

I was so done. My inner diva came out and I was determined to be taken back to Mirror.

He ended up sleeping sleeping indoors with us because there was no way that he was going to sleep outside with the cats. Since Tom was sleeping inside under Billie and Hayley’s mosquito net, Blake (formally George) decided to come inside and sleep with Ro and I. Ro is religiously writing in her diary using her flashlight (how jungle-esque) so Blake and I get talking about life, sociology, and philosophy. For someone who hasn’t studied sociology he has a lot of interesting ideas. Blake’s another person I’m sure I’m going to get super close with.

If you know me at all, you know that I hate physical contact with people who I’m not disgustingly close with. You’ve gotta be real special to me if I’m comfortable hugging you (either that or I’ve been drinking). I also don’t usually like strangers, but there’s something about the jungle and volunteering that makes you a much more loving and open person. I’ve known these people for a week and I already really enjoy them (and although I’m not at a point where I’m hugging them yet), I can tell that we are going to be friends for life. We’re surviving in the jungle together for God’s sake. 

The next day we hiked to a waterfall. We were the first batch who were brought over, and while we were waiting Tom and Amelia decided to cross this bamboo bridge. Harmless, right? No. A couple people had crossed it before Tom so we thought everything was all good and well. What a mistake. I hear a massive crack and when I look over I only see Tom’s head over the bridge. He’s hanging on for dear life (cig still in hand might I add) dangling a good 10 meters above this river. Such fear. Eventually he drops his cig (wise decision) and manages to pull himself onto the bridge and sprint back to land. I’ve never laughed so hard in my entire life. The war scars and the gaping hole in the bridge proves it.

Everyone arrives and we hike on over to the waterfall. It’s super cold but not nearly as cold as the showers at Mirror so we’re all happy to take a shower in the waterfall. I convince Ro to jump off one of the rocks with me, and she nearly hits a rock in the water (oops). Bon didn’t let me jump off the larger rock.. humph.

Bon’s grandfather brought some raw ingredients and cooked an entire meal (キャベツシチュー、ご飯、卵焼き) only using bamboo. Bamboo to cook in, bamboo to burn, bamboo as plates, and bamboo as utensils. It was quite impressive and showed us how you really can survive in the jungle without any modern technology.

Side note: I don’t mean to be a promoter or anything… but Tom’s travel blog is the best thing I’ve read in a while. It’s pretty much disaster story after disaster story. Click here: Tom’s Travel Blog

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