Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

Rebecca Ezrin is a journalism junior studying abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand. With many class field trips and personal trips planned, her adventures are virtually endless. She aims to share her authentic experiences and what she has learned. This past weekend, she spent three days backpacking and rafting through the mountains of Northern Thailand and spent nights at Karen (hilltribe) villages.

Sarah Morehouse/Courtesy Photo

A few hours into the drive to the Amphoe Mae Taeng Mountains, students take a stop at the Amphoe Mae Taeng Waterfall.

Sarah Morehouse/Courtesy Photo

Upon arrival to the Karen village area of the Amphoe Mae Taeng Mountains, students immediately begin a four-hour hike. 

Sarah Morehouse/Courtesy Photo

Following the hike, students reach their homes for the first night. Pictured is a Karen village residence.

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

Children of a Karen village take a stroll.

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

Students Emily Garcia and Maia Hanson sit around the tea kettle during breakfast time the next morning. 

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

The next day, students got the chance to meet with elephants. Here, an elephant reaches out for its snack.

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

An elephant waits for its river bath. Students were given the opportunity to bathe and ride the elephants, but many chose to solely bathe the elephants because of their beliefs on animal treatment in the tourism industry.

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

An elephant finishes being bathed by its owner.

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Following the encounter with elephants, students gathered their belongings and bamboo rafted to the next Karen village.

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

Students arrive at the second Karen village. Pictured, a cow roams around outside of a home. 

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

Upon arrival, students were greeted by free-ranging families of pigs, chicken and dogs. Pictured, a pig milks its piglets.

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

A month-old puppy cuddles up and takes a nap among its many siblings.  

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

Student Sumya Paung helps cook dinner in a Karen home. Paung, who is of the Karen tribe herself, grew up in a Karen village, but has not been back since she was a young girl.

“Watching Karen children play with each other made me realize how lucky I was to have lived that exciting and carefree life,” Paung said. “I can only reminisce on my childhood memories now, but being able to experience it for a little bit again makes me really happy.”

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

On the last day, students spent three hours bamboo rafting downstream.

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

Surrounded by banana trees, students take in the scenery, including a water snake and a python that are hanging from a tree.

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

As rough waters and rocks hit the rafts, tour guides took charge. Pictured, a Karen tourguide fighting through rough tides.

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

Before the three-hour drive home, students stop at a tourist destination for lunch. Pictured, students relax atop a narrow bridge, looking down on the river.

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