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Postcard from Chang Mai: Trekking through the forest

Located in Northern Thailand, Chang Mai is a city that is blessed with the kind of landscape and natural scenes that designers create in brochures with the help of Photoshop.

Staying in the Pang Soong Lodge, located in the heart of the Chang Mai forest, gives you the rare experience of living inside the forest while enjoying the basic comforts of the modern world.

There is no phone reception in the lodge and the one computer with an internet connection is only for emergency use, giving you a break from technology. While this may begin to sound a little too spartan, you still get the comfort of sleeping in a bed while listening to the beautiful symphony of the forest creatures, and there is hot water for your post-trekking shower. Unless, of course, you’re the last one in, and the early shower-takers don’t abide by the lodge’s maximum seven-minute shower rule.

The nearest trekking route takes you 1400 meters above sea level and is located a few steps from the lodge. The walk follows a narrow trekking path made slippery by the yellow leaves that cover it, and your path is surrounded by shades of green from the trees and mountains that stretch as far as you can see.

Along the path you will also encounter large and very weirdly shaped branches, which you will feel tempted to pull. But don’t do it! As I learned through experience, you’ll risk starting an elaborate domino effect in the trees that will end up with a large branch being dropped on you or someone else in your trekking party.

An added bonus for all Twilight fans is that an exact copy of the tree made famous in the movie can be found along the path. Not having seen any of the movies, I wouldn’t have noticed were it not for my screaming Twilight fanatic friend pointing it out and having pictures taken with it.

Upon hearing the sound of a waterfall while walking in the heat of the forest, we thought the sun was getting to us, but as we turned with the circular track we suddenly found a breathtaking 30-meter-high waterfall appear out of nowhere. I have yet to taste water purer or more delicious than I did that day.

The presence of our friendly paramedic,Tong, was very welcome; a number of minor injuries were incurred along the slippery track with its up-and-down slopes.

We also befriended a wild dog that closely resembled Snowy, the fox terrier companion of cartoon character Tintin, only with more disheveled grey fur. We called the dog Hamada Taw, a name combining the Egyptian and Thai cultures, after he showed his loyalty to us by sticking around for the whole trip.

We didn’t encounter any wild creatures during the trip, but on the way back, our forest experience was made complete when we ran into a small, 5-inch lime green serpent. I rushed to take a picture but our guide pulled me away, explaining that this particular serpent was not only poisonous but that it had the power to jump up two meters in the air.

Irrespective of whether that was the truth, the warning made the forest experience that much more exciting.

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