Day 180: Soppong, Thailand. This morning we were up and about early, having breakfast and getting ready for a long hike.
We set off towards Lod cave again, crossing the bamboo bridge and then heading up into the forest. The start of the walk was steep but glorious, with stellar views back across the village, and not a soul in sight. Even several face-fulls of cobwebs didn’t dull our bouncy moods.
We reached the top of the mountain, then walked along the ridge towards the north – some great plants along the way, though very little wildlife apart from lots of birds chirruping in the trees.
We followed the trail back down the other side of the mountain until we reached a small country road, which we followed for a few kilometres downhill. We had to hang back for a bit to avoid some cranky buffalo with their young, who looked like they were getting ready to charge at us. After they’d disappeared into a field, we scurried past and kept following the road until we reached Ban Mueang Phaem, a village of the Karen tribe.
We had a good walk around the village, stopping to admire the artwork on the outside of the kids’ school (including a Happy New Year 2013 message), and peering into wooden village huts and houses as we walked past.
There are a number of homestays catering to groups trekking into the local area, similar to those we’ve previously stayed in in Burma and Vietnam. Everyone was very friendly and waved and said hello – it must be pretty interesting living in such a small place.
Then we walked out of the village and back up the road, which was a hellishly steep climb; we had to stop to catch our breath a few times. Apart from a couple of motorbikes and one or two cars, there was hardly anyone around. And again, we soaked up the most glorious views across farmland and mountains.
We kept walking for another five or so kilometres, eventually reaching the village we’re staying in. We briefly considered extending our walk further, but the afternoon heat was really kicking in and we were starting to feel pretty tired. So instead we visited a cafe called Sweet & Salty in the local village. They grow, roast and brew their own coffee, and it was really good. We sat upstairs on the terrace in the afternoon heat, with fabulous views across the surrounding area.
Then we headed home for a rest while we waited for 5pm to arrive, so we could have a hot shower. This evening we wanderd up to the village for an early dinner at the same restaurant as last night; the food was so good we couldn’t resist a second visit. Their gorgeous cat has three kittens in tow, which we had a heap of fun playing with.
Then home for some chill time in the central wooden house at the Lodge – it’s still not quite cold enough in the evenings to light the huge central fire pit, but it must be getting close.
Tomorrow we’re planning another walk – there are lots of hikes in the local area. And hopefully we’ll avoid face-fulls of cobwebs along the way.