In which I share my bungalow with a bat and am attacked by a crab
When we were planning this visit out to Thailand I sent my parents four separate itineraries to choose from. We talked them all through and eventually settled for a mix of some city, some jungle and then beaching and snorkelling on the south west coast. Shortly after this had been settled I got a few further requests by email – wouldn’t it be nice to go kayaking near some limestone karsts and also please could we do something with elephants. So here we were in Khao Sok National Park as per itinerary 3 with optional elephant and kayaking excursions.
The place we were staying at was a run by a family and the newest addition (just two months old) was a constant presence in the corner of the dining room where he reclined in a hammock being rocked unceasingly by alternating members of the family. The accommodation was rather rustic - some in tree houses that literally had trees coming up through the floor of the veranda. I was in a bungalow which had a resident bat that I could hear scratching around and pooping from the minute I turned the light off every night. The river ran along the bottom of the property garden so on the last day Mom and I clambered down the bank for a late afternoon swim which lasted until I got nipped by a crab.
The elephant riding was fantastic - up a small stream and into the dense jungle. At the top we got off and the elephants had a cooling shower in the pools with their trainers hosing them down before we headed back. Dad’s elephant was called Pepsi, could dance on command and would reply with a ‘parp’ if you called his name. The most enjoyable bit was at the end where you could buy baskets of bananas to feed them as a ‘tip’.
We spent a whole day out on a lake trip in the centre of the park – it a man made dam in the centre of the park which flooded an enormous valley littered with more limestone karsts that even a serious enthusiast could want. It’s an hours journey by long tail boat up one of the ‘fingers’ of the lake to a row of little floating bamboo huts where we immediately leapt into canoes and paddled out to look for monkeys and kingfishers in the trees. After lunch we hiked through the jungle (past a huge tarantula ‘nest’) to a cave where the guide doled out headlamps of extremely dubious quality and we all squeezed through a tiny little entrance into the pitch blackness beyond. There wasn’t a great deal to see other than rather lots of nice rock formations all sparkling in the torch light but making our way slowly up river, climbing over things, and swimming through the deep bits was definitely an adventure.
The next morning we set off by kayak down the river from right outside our hotel. This was much nicer canoeing because we had someone to do the paddling for us leaving us free to stare out at the river banks spotting things: mostly kingfishers and Langur monkeys but also quite near the beginning, an enormous black and yellow snake curled up in a ball in the bamboo above our heads.
More pictures: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150354421351058.353712.532581057&type=1&l=e8e819e905