Khao Yai National Park
Pak Chong Travel Blog› entry 61 of 117 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.