the time some of you are reading this, we would most likely be S.O.A.R
(Some Where On A River) on the Mae Ping River in Chiangmai, Northern
Thailand ... We had been fretting over this trip the past month –
it was a toss-up between the Calamian Islands in the Philippines.
After a frantic exchange of emails between Huey in Spore and me here
and phone calls with Miriam; we settled on Chiangmai. We would be
flying up from Kuching to JB and would meet up with Huey and JunPing
at Spore’s Changi Airport where we will all be flying via Tiger
Airways direct to Chiangmai. Here's hoping for daily beautiful weather
and blue skies like this on our Chiangmai Expedition! And I hope that
my just-healed backache don't play up! Date: 28 Oct to 4 Nov 05 -
Francis "FH2O" Ho
wrote FH20 in his blog entry "SOAR"ing
in Chiangmai on the day he set off for Chiangmai. It was exciting
that there will be 4 of us for this trip, normally it was just me and
Chan. A year earlier Francis and I had only contacted each other over
the emails. We hit off immediately, sharing our passion for kayaking
over the emails, in Sarawak, and then this expedition.
with 'tradition' something must happened the first days before an expedition.
In the past we had sickness, cancellation, cheating, robbery, or transport
problems, one way or the other, before major expeditions. This time
Francis found to his horror, on the day before departure, that his passport
had expired ! He relived his experience in Chiangmai
Trip - Phewwwwww!!!!!!. And what's with Tiger Airways when they
charged JB almost $250 for overweight luggage, especially when Francis
and Miriam with their two kayaks had got in earlier with $50? We all
had a good laugh (except JB...) when Francis told us later that Tiger
Airways had a flat $25 fee for 'sports bag'. The check-in girl must
had been blindly loyal !
two of the kayakers (Francis & Miriam) on this trip were 40+ young
(sorry, *ahem). So we all agreed the expedition had to take a slower
pace. But it was not to be. We had previously thought of a leisurely
paddle downriver but what we encountered was a murky, fast-flowing river
dam up liberally for agricultural uses. In the end I had more portages
that anywhere else I had paddled. Damned
the Dams ! was about how we overcame these dams on the first day
of the expedition.
turned out that both Francis & Miriam were very fit, and Miriam
the strongest women I have met. It showed that age is no barrier to
leading an active and adventurous life. And it pleased me to know that
this could mean I can kayak forever ! But not forever to find accommodation
please. On the second day we paddled until darkness in a river swollen
and hurried by rain. We had not a clue where to sleep for the night.
From local sources we were told to look out for a bridge, which we eventually
did not reached. From a World War II novel and movie of the same name,
Francis likened it to A
Bridge Too Far.
the third day we finally reached Doi Tao Lake, after a day's paddle
of almost 12hrs. We covered over 50km and it must had been hard for
everyone. It was already 8pm and everyone was tired and no one wanted
to paddle till 10pm to find accomodation. But we just couldn't seemed
to find the floating hotel promised by local fishermen. It was like
a mirage floating away each time we get close. It did not helped that
the entire lake was fringed and covered with mimosa. These weeds blocked
our view, torn at our clothes, and created a maze to paddle. So went
the story of Suds
on the River; Evil Weeds and Fishermen on the Lake!.
next day we just lazed around. I guessed the long paddle the day before
had left everyone exhausted. Some of us took a walk, some swam, we ate
and slept, until the lure of the water took us out again for a sunset
paddle. The plan was to continue paddling on until Bhumiphon Dam, another
2 day's paddle away. But Francis and Miriam had to return to Kuching
earlier, we packed up on went back to Chiangmai together. After sending
them off, JB and myself went on to an enchanting Sri
Lana National Park for another 2 days of paddle.