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Trek and camp in Umphang, Umphang Kee village to Chong Yen: 17 - 21 Feb 2007
5:40 p.m. at Huay Umphang stream. As the darkness became deeper people of the nature should have some sort of survival skill and experience. We now thought of stopping at a place to cook dinner. But what we had for our dinner tonight, next day breakfast and lunch, and then where we would sleep, and how? What about mosquitos, possible encounter with dangerous wild animal, unexpected rain?
We had rice, some vegetable, clothes, blankets, trekking knife, gas lighter and matches, torch lights, candals, more batteries and other little things. Fixing a frog with light we were able to grab them by hands. The Pa-O people villager even catched fish by bare hands. Frogs were cooked inside a bambpoo stem with water. It was good tasting. After dinner we kept on walking using lights. It was difficult walking in the water over the stones and rocks in the darkness. You could slip over a rock and fall any time.
We stopped to camp at a river bank with good ground at 10 p.m. After building fire, collecting dry wood that we thought could last the night we took quick shower in the chilling stream water. We did not forget to keep the fire in the middle of about 3.5 meter diameter area which we cleared all leaves and things that could catch fire. It was dry season and we were literally on the forest floor covered all over with dry leaves. Camping places were not difficult to find in this area along the stream. However campers must prepare to protect themselves from being bitten by (river bound) mosquitos, and other insects. Having a good fire is one good way but it is certainly not enough. However fire can also scare away large wild animals such as gaur (large buffalo-like animal), wild elephant known to exist here.
At 7:45 a.m. we were on the trail again. After the breakfast of rice, vegatable and boiled fish we cleared the camp and went on trekking. The begining was a nice walk on the fallen leaves through flowering plants. Gibbons were making long continuous calls from high above in the trees in the distance. Everything looked like nothing has been changed. Old and fresh foot prints and dungs of various animals including elephants were along the trail as if to give us the correct direction.
No they were not gaurs! They were domestic buffalos. Yes buffalos and cows from the villages do come deep into the forest sometimes to find food and water. They do come in herds and expecially in the dry season.
Walking along a tributory of Umphang stream. At about 10 a.m. we arrived at a river meeting point where two tributories meet and form Umphang river (which itself finally flows into Mae Klong river near Umphang town). At the junction is a cave complex where, according to the villagers, seals live. We saw their foot prints on sand beach but not them. Seals live both in water and on land, and eat fish. The tributory on the left comes over a rocky cliff thus creating a beautiful small waterfall. We took to the right tributory and continued our walk.
At around noon we arrived at another stream intersection where we cooked and ate our lunch. After that the trail was difficult to locate for in-experienced people. Later it went into bamboo grove with no marks by animals so we had to do "go and look" several times to find some land marks remembered by the villagers. At 2 p.m. we arrived at a stream bank which we climbed to the unfinished dirt road to continue roughly 6 km more to the end.
Finally we arrived at Chong Yen station of Mae Wong national park. It was over 1300 meters in elevation above the sea, but the last part of the walk on the dirt road was the hotest during our entire trek.
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