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Mae Sot, Umphang, bamboo rafting, Mor Thalu cave, trek to Thilorsu waterfall, Kotha village, Thipogyi village, Mae Klong river view point on Lay Kathit hills, and to Platha village (16 to 21 March 2008)
Four students from United World College of South East Asia, Singapore

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This trip was designed for four students of an International School for their project week activity requirement. The dry weather trekking, camping, and bamboo rafting trip also include a night stay in a hilltribe village and an attempt to reach a rarely visited spot on the rocky Lay Kathit hill with panorama views of Mae Klong river below.

The trip is not just jungle survival and self improvement but also communication and understanding between the peoples of different lives and cultures which is an important part of many of our trips.

Monks collecting alm in Mae Sot town
Monks collecting alm in Mae Sot town

Mae Klong river and sheer limestone cliffs
Mae Klong river and high limestone cliffs

The 160+ km Mae Sot to Um Phang mountain road was done in a crowded public pick up truck that would stop at any hand waving until it was full to the roof. Many migrant workers from the neighbouring Myanmar probably form close to half of the total travelling population that uses these trucks.

Our adventure started with bamboo rating on Mae Klong river surrounded by deep jungle and high cliffs. Waters from the cliffs, rocks, and small brooks and canals all fill into Mae Klong river.

Mor Thalu cave inside
Mor Thalu cave inside

Our first night camp was set up on a sand beach opposite Mor Thalu stream and the cave with the same name. After setting up the camp we took the raft to the other side of river and walked into the cave. At some points we lowered and squeezed ourselves into small and low openings. There are beautiful stalactites, stalagmites and columns formed from the millions of years of dripping and deposition of mineral solutions. We also saw a lot of bats.

First night camp on the sand beach, Mae Klong river
Our first night camp on the sand beach - Mae Klong river

It was a nice camp but not the comfortable place as we know in our city life. We had to do things ourselves from preparation of the ground for tents, finding dry wood for building fire, washing and hanging clothes, and cleaning.

Bamboo rafts on Mae Klong river
Bamboo rafts on Mae Klong river

Next day after the breakfast we continued floating down the river. At one time I took the wood, sat in the front and paddled the raft. Things were quiet apart from occasional sounds of the jungle and our conversation. Bamboo, sand and pebble beaches, small streams and waterfalls, vertical limestone cliffs line the shoreline.

Bamboo rafts on Mae Klong river
Call of a Karen hilltribe people

We approached a place where, up in the air, there is a large hole in the rock making the ridge of the hill looking like a bridge. One of our Karen tribal guides made a loud long call with delight. Birds in the trees responded. It was like a relation or kind of program that links together all the living things surviving in the jungle.

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