Welcome to the Jungle!

Welcome to the Jungle!

So I went on my first little adventure on my own this week. I left for Khao Yai National Park on Tuesday and came back Thursday to my host family’s house. On Tuesday I caught a bus from Bangkok to Pak Chong. I do not really like buses, but in Thailand they are supposed to be the best way to travel. I needed to arrive in Pak Chong by 2:30 in order to make it to the Green Leaf Guest House for the half day tour that started at 3pm. We left the Bangkok station at 10:30am plenty of time to get there in the 3 hours it was supposed to take. However, the bus broke down. So we were stuck on the side of the road for two extra hours. So I did not make it to the guest house until 3:30/4. But, they were so nice that they took me and this Spanish guy Fernando (who was also on the bus and planning to do the half day tour) to meet up with the tour. So we missed the first hour or so of the tour, but were able to see the underground cave and the bat cave.

In the underground cave, there were all these Buddhist shrines and figurines. Apparently some Monks come down there to meditate in the complete dark for 6 hours. Pretty insane! During this tour I got to see some creepy bugs, like a blue centipedes thing as well as hold a scorpion spider. I was pretty much forced into holding the spider, but in the end I am glad I did, if only for the awesome picture and story. As I was holding it the guide said “is it poisonous? Yes. Will it bite you? Probably not.” So that was comforting. . . Next, we went to the bat cave. We got to see the opening of the cave where like 2 million bats live. Right around sunset ALL of the bats come flying out of the cave in order to get food. So for almost an hour we got to watch the bats constantly stream out of this cave and spiral in formation. If you put your hands behind your ears it sounded like an airplane. It was my favorite part of the trip, minus the elephants of course.

The full day tour the next day started at 8am and went until 7pm. We drove the 40 minutes to the park and put on the ever-so-fashionable leech socks (which also were unnecessary). Then we drove up huge hills to get to where we would start our 3 hour hiking journey. Along the way we saw these huge deer-like animals as well as tons of monkeys on the side of the road. Trekking throughout the wilderness was awesome. The vines and spiraled tree trunks were fantastical. But, we saw very little wildlife other than trees. We were able to see a Great Horn Bill (which is kind of like a Toucan) through the guide’s super powered scope. Then we walked further past a salt lick where wild elephants sometimes visit and up to a look out over a water reservoir. This scenic backdrop is where we got to eat lunch. Then we went to visit a beautiful waterfall. Along the way to the waterfall the trucks stopped suddenly because there were gibbons spotted in the trees along the side of the road. (Gibbons are monkeys with long arms and legs that do not come to the ground, but stay in the trees and swing among the branches). After the waterfall we went searching for wild elephant. But, along the way we saw more monkeys on the side of the road. While driving in search of elephants we saw a truck parked on the side of the road. The people there said there was elephant in the forest. So all 20 of us noisy tourists walked down to where the elephants were scared them off walked all the way back to the trucks, only to be beckoned back in to the forest because the elephants has returned. Well no duh! All the noisy people left. So we all went back in and saw movement that we knew to be elephants and could hear them, but couldn’t really make them out clearly. So we all returned to the trucks in order to make our way to the salt licks in hopes of seeing elephants there. We were driving for 30 minutes or so and we were started to get worried because sunset was approaching. When all hope was lost the truck jolted to a stop and we saw a pack of 8-10 wild elephant in the foliage just off the road. The said there for about 5 minutes and then started to make their way across the road. Of course in the excitement we all tried to jump out of the truck only to be scolded by our guides. But, it was for our own safety. While the elephants were crossing the road one started towards us. So the truck immediately started to back up, the elephant stopped and just peed in the middle of the road. It was as if he was daring us to cross that line. He marked his territory and was warning us not to come closer. After watching them for about 10 minutes and when it was safe to pass we left the elephants and returned back to the guest house.

All in all it was FREAKING AWESOME!

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