The last entry was incomplete >.<
20.06.2014 30 °C
And it was worth it after all!
After waking up in the hotel I ended up in the day before yesterday, I addressed my guidebook for other options. The next one on the list was Khao Yai Lodge Garden Resort. I purchased a SIM card at the 7 11 (yes, I have a Thai mobile number now), called them and booked a room with ceiling fan for less than 10 euro/night. They offered to pick me up for free at the busstop, which I accepted thankfully (wish I had called them the night before), and when I arrived at the resort I almost fell out of my shoes. This is a green paradise! The room is basic, so is the shared bathroom but since there is noone around to share it with, I have the whole bungalow, bathrooms, swimming pool and resstaurant for myself. Unbelieveable, in rainy season there is nothing going on here, but the employees are keeping the place spotless.
Unfortunately, they don't offer tours to the park for single travellers, but I found a German tour organisation (or frankly spoken, they found me - at the busstop), and was allowed to go on a tour with them though I didn't book their accomodation. And it turned out to be a very good choice.
We started off at 7.20 this morning, when the guide picked me up at the resort. I was in a group with two young lovely ladies from Belgium, Joline and Lilly, and that matched perfectly!
We had an open truck that took us to the park (25 km from the resort, no other chance to get there), and carried us over the many routes. It was like entering a different world, everything in bright green colours, exotic animal sounds around, starting from cicades, that made noise like somebody is cutting wood (so loud I thought I was at a construction side every once in a while), to different kind of birds and (!) gibbons.
When we heard them the first time houling from high up in the trees, the truck stopped and Ben took us into the jungle for the first time. The many entrances were blocked by hand-sized black and yellow spiders, which were not poisonous but whose bites would hurt horribly... I was disgusted and did my best to avoid all the webs... We saw some gibbons, but only high up in the trees, where they were swinging from branch to branch like circusartists. No chance of taking a proper picture, and they never come down to the grounds, Ben told us.
We moved on to a viewpoint, where Ben handed us our leechsocks - basicly nylon socks that prevent leeches from attaching to trouserlegs and making their way underneath them to suck themselves full with blood. Though looking stupid with these things on, we were all glad to have them. I had one leech attached to my trousers once and after snipping it off it wouldn't want to let go off my fingers. Another disgusting animal around. But Ben convinced us that we had picked the better season since leeches don't carry any transmittable diseases. In dry season they have problems with ticks and the diseases they transmit.
We made our way to the visitors center, where others might have gone for the museum, I just went for the insects. Dancing butterflies in various colours, fluffy caterpillars, ants and so on and so on.
After our short break we started out to our jungle hike, which led us 5 kilometers into the wild and I'm sure Ben does this trek only with small agile groups, since we had to cope with steep slippery pathways, climb over fallen trees or bend deep under down hanging lianas, always trying to avoid the webs of the huge spiders.
Ben knew a lot about the area, the plants and animals and their behaviour. I liked the way he explained things to us so passionately, stopped to pray for serveral seconds before we entered the jungle and picked up small branches every once in a while to replace them somewhere they could root and add even more life to this vivacious ecosystem. His dignity was touching.
After our trek we had lunch together, then made our way to a warterfall that was visible in the movie "The beach". I can't tell, but it was the only place that was actually crowded, with airconditioned minibuses in the front, waiting for their passangers to carry them around the park so that they would have to take as few steps as possible themselves. We thought, our way of getting around had a far more adventurous style. Lilly and I were also invited to an Asian photoshoot... So the waterfall wasn't obviously the only attraction around.
And then we saw what we had actually come for. Standing in the bushes next to the street was a huge wild elephant. And here comes the point, that I just don't get: The Thai have such an awesome green heaven on earth that is protected, with rare animals like these elephants, and for more convenience they have roads and are allowed to use motorbikes and cars in there (which in my opinion already undermines the idea of a national park), and those idiots -I'm almost sorry to say so- misuse the trafficfree routes as some kind of racetrack. It only took two fast cars and a loud motorbike for the elephant to flee into he bushes.
Our guide was furious, since he had called our driver to approach it carefully.
But being a smart young man, Ben was connected via a walkie-talkie to other guides in the park and we only had to wait for 15 minutes until our elephant had been spotted elsewhere. Off we went and there he was, walking in a steady mood through the bright green grasland (I still don't understand why people perfer this place in the dryseason).
He dug at a saltlick, then moved on to the next. More than once he showed us that he was aware of our presence, but marched past our truck with slow heavy steps. When he turned towards the road, other spectators fled into their cars while our guide assured us over and over again, that the elephant wouldn't attack (visible by it's relaxed hanging ears). I have to admit that there were moments when I was not so sure that the bull wouldn't change his mind any second.
After the elephant looked like he had enjoyed his show, he vanished into the woods and we made our way to the highest viewpoint in the park (1000 meters above sealevel).
With me being afraid of heights I was kind of surprised by my own reaction when we entered the small cliff. I sat down close to the rim and let my feet dangle over it. Thought I was out of my mind for a second. But the view was so overwhelming, that I forgot about what I was doing instantly. The sight could have been taken from an advertising spot, with clouds gliding through a green forrest valley, tropical birds and insect sounds around, butterflies dancing in the air above the abyss. Had the song "On top of the world" by Imagine Dragons on my mind and was filled up with today's beautiful pictures.
On our way out of the park, we met our thickskinned friend once more, this time being all alone with him. He stood next to the road, calmly stuffing gras into his mouth (with half of it falling out again while he was chewing). But I had my today's best shot already, was happy when we made it out and Ben dropped me off at the resort.
I decided to stay another day, hang out a little and prepare the next days porperly.
Will give the picture upload another try tomorrow, too