Khao Sok National Park, Thailand
After finally catching up with Marco and climbing the 1,237 steep and monkey-patrolled steps to the golden buddha in Krabi, we headed north to the Khao Sok National Park. This park seems to be well-known to everyone except us and contains a huge flooded valley. The dam generates electricity, the lake attracts tourists and the displaced families lease out floating bungalows to the tourists. So that was where we went!
We stayed a few nights on land in the village by the park entrance. Ideally (from some of Marco’s local knowledge) we wanted to go inside the park and explore on the motorbike. However the entry fee for foreigners was pretty high and we could not work out from satellite images if the roads went anywhere once inside the park. We wanted to do a night on the lake too and had to pay the same fees for that anyhow, so we did some off-road exploring outside the park instead. This was challenging enough for the likes of us so we extended our day trip to the west coast for a quick dip in the sea.
The trip on the lake was pretty spectacular. First ute then bus then an hour on a long tail boat to get to the bungalows. These basic rooms had everything a sane person could want: Shower, toilet, bed and chairs on the front porch from which you could dive into the clear green water all around you. There were also kayaks to tinkle around in and very few mosquitos to bite you.
The afternoon’s activities involved a boat ride to a jungle track which then took you to a river running into a cave. Apart from leeches, bats and flash floods, there was nothing to worry about. Oh, and the dark. And the deep running water. As was the standard weather pattern, the rain appeared in the late-afternoon as we emerged from the cave. As we slid back along the muddy path to the boat, the rain increased and became all-consuming. We couldn’t leave until the second boat was ready in case anyone had difficulties on the walk back. So we sat there getting colder and colder as the boat slowly filled up with rainwater. Eventually we sped off and the rain pellets were so painful in the face we had to turn and face backwards for our return to the bungalows. Knowing that the lake water was like a bath compared to the cold rainwater, Nickiy didn’t even wait for the boat to dock before she bailed into the lake. What a great way to warm up as the sun began to set….
With the public holidays fast approaching there had been a shift change in the kitchen of the bungalows and this gave us a real worry. There was no beer. Imagine 40 tourists captive on a floating island wanting a relaxing sundowner after their very wet cave trek. Then they find out this terrible fact…..what?! It was going to be like Lord of the Flies. Thankfully our guide pulled some strings and beer was urgently shipped in to calm us down.
The next day as the sun came up on the hills we did a quick potter round in the boat to hear the gibbons call out to each other and watch the monkeys patrol the shoreline. After that we got to climb up to ‘Snake Cave’ which surprised us all by actually having a couple of snakes moving about in the rocks. It was also filled with large bats and, unpleasantly enough, thousands of scorpion spiders. These foul things had the normal compliment of 8 legs plus two specially evolved front mandibles that had pincers on the end. Jeez, they were horrible. And huge.
Once again we took no photos, so our fellow tourists from Colorado and the Netherlands have kindly filled in some blanks. Plus I had to find some spider pictures on the internet to capture the horror….