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.
A few hours into the drive to the Amphoe Mae Taeng Mountains, students take a stop at the Amphoe Mae Taeng Waterfall.
Upon arrival to the Karen village area of the Amphoe Mae Taeng Mountains, students immediately begin a four-hour hike.
Following the hike, students reach their homes for the first night. Pictured is a Karen village residence.
Children of a Karen village take a stroll.
Students Emily Garcia and Maia Hanson sit around the tea kettle during breakfast time the next morning.
The next day, students got the chance to meet with elephants. Here, an elephant reaches out for its snack.
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.
An elephant finishes being bathed by its owner.
Following the encounter with elephants, students gathered their belongings and bamboo rafted to the next Karen village.
Students arrive at the second Karen village. Pictured, a cow roams around outside of a home.
Upon arrival, students were greeted by free-ranging families of pigs, chicken and dogs. Pictured, a pig milks its piglets.
A month-old puppy cuddles up and takes a nap among its many siblings.
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.”
On the last day, students spent three hours bamboo rafting downstream.
Surrounded by banana trees, students take in the scenery, including a water snake and a python that are hanging from a tree.
As rough waters and rocks hit the rafts, tour guides took charge. Pictured, a Karen tourguide fighting through rough tides.
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.