December 22nd, 2009 – by: orcio81
I went to Khao Yai National Park (which is a rainforest, UNESCO Natural Heritage site since 2005) from a town called Nakhon Ratchasima (ot Khorat) which I used as an exploring base. The very first day I took a bus to Pak Chong
where I should have got off my bus at the bus station but somehow I missed that chance...ups... so that's why I had to ask the bus stewardess to stop as soon as possible and somewhere in direction to Khao Yai. They dropped me at an intersection where two motorcycle taxi drivers helped me to get on a "songthaew" (a kind of a larger pick-up or a truck used as a shared taxi) which went to the northern gate of the national park. Having paid a brutally high entrance fee of 400 baht (especially when Thai people pay something like 50) I asked the ranger how could I get to the Visitor Centre which was located approx 23km further.
..He said he would hitchhike for me....Hmmmm....As I learned later hitchhiking is a normal form of transportation in the park and drivers are very cooperative so after 3minutes of waiting I together with other 5 people boarded a pick-up which gave us lift to the Visitor Centre. There I told rangers I had something like 5 hours to spend there and asked them what should I do and what can I see. They recommended me to take one of few hiking trails available to visitors which starts from a camping site and finishes at a waterfall. How to get to the campsite? By hitchhiking, of course. The very first car that was passing by gave me a lift to the camp site from where I started my 2 hour journey through the rain forest...I can tell you it was my first contact with a rainforest and yes - I was afraid a bit.
those monkeys were everywhere...especially along the main road at the park
...all the time watching out for dangerous snakes, tigers and other animals who came into my mind despite the fact the rangers told me it was pretty safe to walk around :-).....So why the hell they have "Beware of crocodile" sings there??????? Well, I survived and another pick-up, this time with an Italian family gave me a ride to a water reservoir from where it was a short walk to a watch tower from where I managed to see only two deers....Where were elephants, eh??? Anyway, at about 5pm I decided to return to Korat
because I knew the last "songthaew" from the park was gone and would need to hitchkike all the way to Pak Chong....With half the country riding motorbikes and the other half driving pick-ups it was not a problem to get a lift from a Visitor center back to the northern gate and from there to Pak Chong.
....Well, it was not really Pak Chong where I got out of the last pickup but somewhere on the highway between Bangkok
and Khorat. All I've got was a direction to Khorat so I crossed the highway and tried to hitchhike but it was impossible as vehicles were running at 100km/h...Who would stop for me, right? Anyway, I received a help from 3 different Thai people who literally delivered me to a bus stop from where I got a ride all the way to Khorat. Actually, the very last woman who helped me was especially nice as she waited with me for my bus for about 20 minutes before she helped me board the right bus. And she was going in a different direction, to Bangkok! ;-) When I finally returned to Khorat at about 8:30pm I wanted to take a taxi to my hotel.
I showed taxi drivers a card with my hotel's location and when asked for the price they told me 60 baht for the ride but when I started to argue that I can drive through half of Bangkok for the same price they promised to used a taximeter. After 5 minutes in a taxi I found myself at a hotel which was not the place where I was staying. I showed the driver my hotel's card again but he was desperate and had to ask few other people for directions but they were desperate too :-) I told him to call the hotel for directions which was a good advice and after 10 more minutes I got into my hotel. There was only one problem, such as that the taxidriver wanted me to pay 70 baht as shown on the taxi meter, however I strongly refused to pay that amount of money because it was obviously not my problem he lost his way, didn't know where my hotel was and when we had arrived at the wrong hotel I have told him to zero the taxi meter.
...I was already pulling my mobile out of my bag with an intention to call my Thai friend who could do some translation work for me when the driver showed me I should get out of the car.....And this is how my taxi ride was for free and I will use that trick with a mobile next time :-)