Khao Yai National Park

Pak Chong Travel Blog

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Khao Yai National Park

The only way to get to Pak Chong, our base for visiting Khao Yai National Park, is Thailand's notoriously slow railway. Once we were only offered standing, third-class tickets I started to think it might be a bit of a nightmare. For some reason, I was thinking scorching heat in a stinky, cramped carriage, stuck between sweaty unfriendly locals and chickens and other animals wedged inside bamboo cages. It was actually pretty much the London Underground, overground, but having to make do with sitting on the floor or on our backpacks. One guy fell asleep with his head on Kyle's so we had to wake him up, remembering that touching someone's head is incredibly rude in Buddhist countries.

Giant millipede
So we asked his mate to do it for us, not expecting him to smack him with full force around the head. And I can't say I've ever got off a train on the wrong side before, but that's what we were told to do, so we did.

We booked up on a tour with our hostel as it got a good review in our Lonely Planet. It didn't disappoint. We got a great group of people for the one-and-a-half day trip to the National Park and some hilarious guides, too. One was called the Birdman - not because he's a half-man half-bird superhero with the power of flight. Let's clear that up now - he's not. He did know a bit about birds, though. He took us to a cave which was full of bats and creepy-crawlies, where I got covered in bat droppings. Then, after, while eating and learning a bit about local fruit produce, we witnessed approximately two million bats fly overhead, leaving a cave to search for food, which happens at sunset every day.

Chuckles with bloated leech
It was quite a sight.

The next day we set off for the National Park. Now, on this trip I have locked horns with some dangerous animals - deadly spiders, snakes, jellyfish and crocodiles - each time embarrassing them all and laughing at Mother Nature for her feeble attempts to faze me. This time, however, I met my match. Leeches. They make my skin crawl just thinking about them. Despite being given protective socks, three of our seven-man squadron fell victim to them, losing masses and masses of blood. Of course, I didn't suffer the same fate - don't be ridiculous - but I did squeal as loud as I ever have - louder than I do each morning in the freezing showers out here - when I kept examining my shoes to find about 10 to 15 leeches trying to find their way through the sock to my blood.

Call me Chuckles, will you!?
When I saw one that had been sucking on one of the group for a while being removed, I felt sick looking at the fat little thing all bloated from their blood. They have replaced mozzies now as my number one nemesis. Luckily, trips when nature called didn't transcend into anything from Stand By Me. Or Deliverance, thank God.

My fear of leeches thus became one of the many sources of amusement to our two guides, who I have dubbed the Chuckle Brothers, due to the fact they found anything unbelievably funny, but not just laughing, but giggling like two little school girls, usually at us farang (Westerners) finding creepy-crawlies or dangerous animals unbearable. Examples included them chasing the girls with a giant scorpion and dangling leeches in front of us every so often.

Giant scorpion
On top of that, one of them showed us a picture on his camera of the other one in a compromising position with another man in a bathtub, supposedly after a game of footy. Which actually did warrant their girly shrills.

It was an unbelievable day, only dampened a little bit by the weather. Although the rainy season is not due to start until the end of the month, it appears it has come a little early. Every day has started off fine, then by about lunchtime it tips it down all day, meaning that animal hunting became tricky. Luckily, we had got most of our trekking out of the way in the morning and spent much of the afternoon searching for animals in the van. Another highlight was visiting Heaw Suwat Waterfall, used in the film The Beach. Even the journey home was an event in itself as we kept dry in the back of the truck during a crazy thunderstorm where it rained outside like I've never seen before. But the main event for me was the animals we saw - the macaques, the giant hornbill birds that flew overhead and especially the giant scorpion, which was just unbelievable, even if the Chuckle Brothers spent most of the time throwing it at us or just treating it like a toy. Although they were hiding in there somewhere, bears and tigers will have to wait for another time.

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Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park
Giant millipede
Giant millipede
Chuckles with bloated leech
Chuckles with bloated leech
Call me Chuckles, will you!?
Call me Chuckles, will you!?
Giant scorpion
Giant scorpion
Heaw Suwat Waterfall
Heaw Suwat Waterfall
Cloud about to burst
Cloud about to burst
The batcave
The batcave
Scorpion spider
Scorpion spider
Millions of bats
Millions of bats
Clobber
Clobber
Gibbons
Gibbons
Bear marks
Bear marks
Singing in the rain
Singing in the rain
This is just ridiculous
This is just ridiculous
View as we ate lunch
View as we ate lunch
Hornbill
Hornbill
Heaw Suwat Waterfall
Heaw Suwat Waterfall
Giant scorpion
Giant scorpion
Put it away
Put it away
Pak Chong
photo by: dan2105