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I wanted to do the final trek for my time in se Asia on the Mae Hong Son Loop and did my usual research online. I found Mr. Chart in Pai and he looked perfect. He offers the most rustic, primitive trekking experience I have come across and is an incredible guy. It’s hard to say that one trek was my favorite, because they all have been incredible, BUT if I had to choose one it would be my trek in Pai with Mr. Chart.
I had planned on doing a 3 day/2 night trek with him, but torrential rain made that impossible. He laughed at me when I showed up in his office in the pouring rain asking if we could still go out the next morning. In order to do a trek, you typically need a minimum of 4 people and the smaller the group you have, the more money you have to pay. No one else wanted to go on a trek and Mr. Chart did the unthinkable, he took me out alone on a private trek for the normal price ($50/day, pricy but well worth it).
Mr. Chart is no ordinary guide and this was no ordinary trek. All of his treks go to places that he uses exclusively. There are no other foreigners, no wide walking paths, and the people in the villages he goes to don’t try to sell you stuff. Because it was only a 2 day trek, we spent the night in the jungle and didn’t visit any villages. We crossed and walked up dozens of streams and went through dense jungle.. It was incredible. He brought hooks on string and we fashioned fishing rods out of bamboo and went fishing in the river, in heavy rain, as we made our way to camp. Because it was just the two of us, we used a bamboo structure covered in banana leaves that he had constructed with his last trek 5 days earlier. We gathered wood and made a fire in the rain. Food was cooked in bamboo and we ate out of bamboo. We even ate bamboo shoots. It was so cool eating bamboo that was cooked in bamboo out of bamboo plates in a bamboo building. I later found out that Mr. Chart’s youngest son is named bamboo. The food was really good. We had rice with every meal. He wrapped the rice in banana leaf pouches and cooked it inside of water filled bamboo. We also had grilled beef with every meal. We had a jungle curry that was really spicy and really good, fish stew made from the fish we caught, bamboo shoots, and a spicy chili sauce. Mr. Chart is also a skilled hunter and will take you hunting for dinner upon request. Before each meal, he left a food offering to the jungle spirits.
The jungle was very jungly and was teaming with wildlife. We saw a group of monkeys playing in the trees near camp, deer tracks, a pig sleeping area and poo, and bamboo that was munched on by monkeys. On the second day we followed the deer tracks and Mr. Chart used grass to make deer calls. On the same day, we stopped by the waterfall. There is a big waterfall a few hours hike from town and we saw several groups of tourists trying to find it when we were on the way back. The waterfall was impressive, but the “short cut” we took to get there was the best part of the trek. In addition to the normal river action, we went through extremely dense jungle. Before we headed out, he said, “we’re not babies and we’re not old” and “you can go fast like me” then left me with the warning “you should have worn pants and long sleeves.” We went at a very nice pace and he was able to navigate us around some crazy terrain and follow animal tracks at the same time. This time, there was no trail. We were so far off of the beaten path that there was no path at all! Mr. Chart pointed out numerous plants and told me their medicinal value or other practical applications. I was totally blown away by his knowledge, ability, physical conditioning, and him as a person. The trek was a perfect finale to my adventures in se Asia.
The Mr. Chart experience did not end when we got back to town. After showering and changing, I went back to Mr. Chart’s home/office for dinner. I helped him prepare a beef curry. We also had bamboo shoots with pork and oyster sauce and tripe soup. We washed the really good food down with copious amounts of homemade whiskey. While we were eating, several people came buy to eat and drink with us. Mr. Chart seems to know everyone in town and his home is a meeting place. He is an extraordinary human being that offers a once in a lifetime trekking opportunity for adventure enthusiasts. If you are serious about trekking, go to Pai and look up Mr. Chart. He is the best in the business.

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