AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Sagada: Day 1

Posted on Feb 15, 2014

The Philippines is like the rest of Asia when it comes to hiking, you need a guide for almost everything. Well, actually you don’t need a guide, you just need to know where the path is. And because most information isn’t published then we don’t know where the paths are. Which then leads back to needing a guide simply because we can’t find the paths. Very annoying. On our first day in Sagada we were given a map in the tourist information office. It showed a path going up Mt. Apacao, the Lonely Planet also said this was a good walk and easy to do alone. That was enough to convince us that hiking up this hill would be a good idea. We had breakfast at the Yoghurt House, which serves really nice, thick yogurt (among many other nice options). We also ordered sandwiches which looked really tasty and a bag of fresh cookies. We walked down main road out of Sagada into the next village. Luckily, Annemarie had found a very brief blog that someone had written and we were able to use that for basic directions because we got stuck at the first point. A small concrete track leads off to the right by the school in Ambasing up the hill and sharply to the right. The map had no details and the Lonely Planet gave no directions. We followed this track almost the whole way to the ridge near the summit. It becomes a dirt track but still easy to follow. Most of the walk was in the shade which was very good for us, the air temperature was around 22’c but in the sun it was around 30’c. We still struggled a bit walking up there, showing that we really aren’t as fit as we’d like to be. We reached a flat plateau about two thirds of the way to the summit. From here the track went around the side of the slope, not up it. Our map was totally pointless for actual navigation and our very basic guide mentioned nothing. We looked around and followed the track hoping to see a path up. But nothing! We kept on walking. Still nothing! At this point we have to give up on walking to the summit. But, it’s not all bad news, the map shows a red line (a path) linking Mt. Apacao with a lake to the north, which is a popular location and has a road leading back into Sagada. We see no other paths so we might as well continue following this track. The track steadily gets narrower until it passed a wooden...

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Chiang Mai: Bike & Hike

Posted on Jan 18, 2014

Finding good hiking in Thailand is proving to be quite difficult. It is either a big, expensive, multi-day, group tour or a one day hike which is only a few hours walking and then padded with trips to ethnic villages where hikers can stare at ‘different’ people, usually elephant rides are added on, etc. We managed to find a company which did do proper full day hiking but at £40+ that made us more determined to find routes ourselves and do it for free. We finally found this, a description of a walk in the forest just outside of Chiang Mai; Perfect. The starting point was a few miles out of the city so we hired a bicycle each and with some water and sandwiches we cycled to the lake. The lake looked to be a favourite for locals to come and relax. The shore of the lake is crowded with simple wooden huts, standing in the water on stilts. Families were sat in there, relaxing and fishing. We sat in a bandstand (no idea what they are called in Thailand but I doubt they are called bandstands) and ate our sandwiches whilst overlooking the lake and a giant golden Buddha. We then set off into the forest. The directions were not detailed enough and we found ourselves going wrong a few times after a very short distance. The path forked many times and we simple e had to guess which direction to take. Eventually I figured a method, using the track loaded into Google Earth and GPS to see my exact location I could follow the track. This was slightly concerning as I knew it would devour the battery and the phone might not last the whole route but it was the best we had. Even with the improved method we still went wrong a few times. We headed up the bank of large stream as it made its way down the mountain side. Then it was a steady uphill until we reached a large waterfall. After the waterfall the going got tough. It was steep uphill for the next hour and combined with the heat we were dripping with sweat. As we ploughed on uphill through bushes, low trees, ferns, etc we were constantly walking through cobwebs and on giant leaves. The paranoia of spiders, snakes, scorpions, etc was starting to take effect, not helped by the fact that we were getting eaten alive; the cobwebs constantly wrapping around ours heads, arms legs didn’t help… By now we were wondering why we thought this was a good idea. We covered ourselves in insect repellent and carried on....

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Chiang Mai: Hike & Bike

Posted on Jan 13, 2014

There is one annoying thing about Chiang Mai, and Thailand as a whole. You can’t just go for a hike on your own. A hike is usually a multi day activity which you have to book, possibly a private tour but usually in a group. Single day treks will usually consist of maybe a couple of hours walking and then visit an elephant sanctuary, do some rafting and visit a hill tribe or two. Almost all the hikes do the same stuff. We finally accepted this fact and booked a tour which consisted of walking in the morning and mountain biking in the afternoon. The pictures looked good so we hoped it would be worth the extortionate amount of cash they were asking for. Morning We were picked up from the hostel around 9am and driven for one hour up to the national park just north of Chiang Mai. This gave us time to chat to the other couple we would be spending the day with, a couple from Auckland, New Zealand. This was interesting as we plan to end the trip maybe living and working in New Zealand and Auckland will be the most likely place we will find work and settle down. We walked for a couple of hours through the forest whilst our guide pointed out the flora and fauna of the forest. Quite interesting, his knowledge and love of the woods was obvious. He didn’t like people coming and cutting down the trees for firewood and building material. “Thailand Beaver” he calls the illegal loggers. The walk wasn’t that great, maybe 4 miles in total (I forgot to start recording the walk when we set off) and took a little over 2 hours. But, it was OK and we learnt some interesting forest knowledge. Our route through the forest © OpenStreetMap contributors Download Lunch We had lunch by a waterfall on the edge of the park. Afternoon After lunch we were given our mountain bikes and after a bit of practice and adjusting to get used to gears, plus making sure the brakes worked we set off. We rode on roads the whole way, some busier than others. The busy roads weren’t so good but the quiet back roads were pleasant. As we rode our guide would point out trees, temples and other interesting things in the landscape and tell us about them. We didn’t cycle that far, although realistically our level of fitness isn’t very good. On the whole it was enjoyable but it would have been better had we actually gone off road and if it had pushed us a little harder we’d...

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