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Khao Sok National Park

Written on: Friday April 4th, 2008

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

Paradise is a place in the middle of Thailand. Woo betide any of you if you come here and just visit the islands off the coasts of this country, especially if you?ve read this before you come here. Khao Sok National Park is that paradise and happens to be covered by the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world. It joins the growing list of places on this trip that I could have happily stayed at for a much longer period. I stayed just outside the National Park at Jungle Huts a bit unsure as to whether it was worth coming to another quite similar National Park only 5 days after visiting Khao Yai. I spent my first day watching macaques frolic in the surrounding trees to my hut, one with the audacity to climb up my stairs, walk along my railing and stand on the table I was seated at, as if to say, ?What the hell do you think you?re doing??

 

In a really relaxed mood I journeyed in to the National Park itself the next day, booked on a two day trip which would have me based overnight in a lakeside hut right in the middle of the park itself. I had a good group joining me thankfully, Ben and Stephanie from London, Werner from Germany and Johannes from Sweden, as well as our very relaxed and quirky guide Bom. Bom was nowhere near as knowledgeable as Mr A on the wildlife and habitat of the park, but had a really amicable air about him. He joked a lot, and couldn?t help but tell humourous stories about some of the people that had stayed in the jungle with him.

 

Our huts sat right on the edge of the lake and consisted of a single story bamboo hut that floated on a jetty of bamboo underneath it. It was maybe two and a half square metres, with just a single double mattress to furnish it. It was heaven. You could leave through the back of the hut and jump off the bamboo trestle in to the lake, which felt like bathwater it was so warm.

 

After a filling lunch, Bom took us off further up lake where we moored up and went for a trek through the forest to a cave that runs down through the limestone, with water running throughout it. We each had flashlights to light the way as otherwise the cave is completely pitch black. Our lights illuminated our rocky, slippery path, the bats that clung to the cave?s roof and the spiders clinging to its walls. Most of the way you are walking through ankle deep water but as you begin to descend the water becomes exceedingly deep. At several points through the cave Bom took our few possessions we had with us in his waterproof bag and we had to swim through the cave?s passages lighting our way with the flashlight held in our mouths. My dim flashlight actually worked a lot better when it fell from my mouth and landed in the drink. When it rains in this area it is extremely dangerous, and it is prohibited for people to enter the cave as the rains come down so quickly that the cave floods leaving people trapped underground to drown. Only last year a group of 6 drowned here after that very thing happened. As we exited the cave a clap of thunder sounded above us, and within minutes we were soaked with the ferocity of the rains coming down. Well timed me thinks.

 

The next 24 hours was spent lazing around the lake, taking out a canoe and exploring the nearby lagoons, spotting eagles and gibbons playing in the trees. That night we went off on a night safari in the engine powered longboat and again early the following morning. The morning was more eventful, with an eagle admiring us as we passed his wooden lakeside perch and a family of gibbons showing off for us in the trees. A magnificent trek through another part of the National Park rounded off my trip here, where I was savagely attacked and bitten by a chameleon. This will teach me to grab hold of them by the tail for my own photographic gratification.

 

I awoke the following day back at my Jungle Hut on the mainland, to a hideous hangover from silly drinking games with Ben, Stephanie and two other English girls who we had met whilst staying in the jungle, Tiah and Sophie, the previous night. At one point, I?m not sure why, the five of us were prancing around the Rasta Bar dancing with a group of ladyboys. It seems though, that the chameleon had been talking to a number of his jungle friends and wasn?t content with just the bite on my hand. I awoke that morning to a mischievous group of macaques on my balcony, one of whom had adopted my T-shirt I?d left out on the rail to dry, as his own comfort blanket. I opened the curtains to find them staring back at me, quite perplexed that I should be here. One of them scaled the side of my hut and leapt up on top of the window shutter as if wanting me to dare him to jump through and enter. I didn?t dare him. Upset that he was going to have to give back my T-shirt, the cheeky macaque threw my T-shirt on the floor, proceeded to pee all over it, knocked my socks off the railing and proudly exited my veranda, puffing out his chest as he elegantly flung himself on to a nearby tree. Git.