In my grad school, we trek in the jungle for class.
While not the most common form of instruction for higher education, the Dean of my department, the School of Tourism Development deems it best for us students to get out of the classroom and visit villages that are potentially marketable for tourism development. We survey the villages, listen to their ideas for business and advise their council accordingly as to how they can go about in expanding this community venture.
So a bit over a week ago, we went to Pongyaeng, a bit further up the mountains of the MaeRim area of Chiang Mai. Asides from us, ten graduate students and the Dean trudging off to the middle of nowhere, we had to semi-babysit about 50
of the brattiest kids that ever walked the university grounds undergrad students. Ugh! They make hyperactive first grade boys look positively angelic!
The main activity the villagers have planned is what I would call, “Orchid Releasing.” Derived from the traditional Thai custom of releasing birds and fish to make merit, the community is trying to integrate their village project of growing orchids into the tourism aspect of their society. What happens is, visitors will assemble the ‘psuedobulb’ (I think that’s what it’s called) from their community nursery and will exchange their plantlet for one that is about three months older and take this new one with them during their trek.
And then off we go! Of all my trekking experience, I’ve gone through worse, this was actually pretty short. While it took us about 2 hours going up and back, it was still quite the work out. (Mind you, I’m fluffy and literally out of shape, no joke)
So while roaming through the cleared and muddy path, we scattered throughout the trek and hammered (very gently, I assure you) our orchids to the trees. While most of oldies attached our flowers at eye level, the little punks scrambled to borrow the villagers’ ladders and climbed up to higher elevations.
Speaking of higher elevations, we did find, in the middle of the jungle, a couple of adventure contraptions made specifically for tourists to enjoy in the middle of the jungle.
We were also rather fortunate that we were passed by a group of tourists off to zip-line. No, we didn’t get to zip-line with them, but hey! I got a few decent shots (rather blurry, mind you!) that I could at least post up the blog for ya’ll to see the different things you can do in the middle of a Thai jungle.
All in all, it was a good day. I’m no where near those rugged adventure-enthusiast, if anything, I’m one of those more- sloth-like individuals who enjoyed being curled up with a good book, munching on something good and fattening. But unexpectedly, I truly enjoyed that trip. While I’m hoping for a short respite until the next time, I can’t wait to see what the next village trip would have in store.