By Amy Rankin
March 2, 2008
My mid-twenties birthday found me mid-jungle at the border of Burma and Thailand. I did have a bit of a party, with native monkeys and various vermin celebrating with me. It was just a girl and a backpack, trying to forget about things like passing birthdays.
Gning and Gnung, my two Thai tour guides warned me about the "tiny buffalo" or what the hill tribes termed the tiny beasts one must grapple with in order to get from place to place; the masses of slimy black jungle leeches.
"I've done worse", I thought, packing my bag without concern. I had arrived in town by bus, and only an hour later had signed my life over to a hefty fifteen hour jungle trek to a Karen hill tribe settlement at the next crack of dawn. For two nights, we were sleeping in bamboo huts, walking with bamboo sticks, and eating, you guessed it - bamboo. There would even be a chance of monkey-spotting! All of that must surely make up for a small parasite problem, right?
The only solution is to perpetually pick and fling before they settle in your sole and "Make party in shoe!!" exclaimed Gnung the tour guide, who thought the screaming and cussing tourists were really hilarious.
"Welcome to five star hotel!" exclaimed Gnung, laughing again.
The amenities of the "home" included one water spout, a shower (ie. a rubber hose running from said spout into a straw covered outhouse) complete with swampy mud floor and squatter toilet. For sleeping, there were straw mats with mosquito nets that are brought out just for the tourists.
At night, if you find that sleep doesn't come, you can stay up and be serenaded by a chorus of monkeys singing and swinging in the treetops. And if sleep STILL doesn't come, you can always wait until dawn when the roosters insist upon squawking their rooster heads off every two minutes until everyone in the house is tossing about, scratching their heads and wondering why the heck they signed up for this.
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