Khao Yai National Park
|Setting off from Victory monument|
A typical park visit involves you leaving Bangkok early Saturday morning and getting back late Sunday night, perfect for people working there.
Getting to the park turned out to be so easy, we got a mini bus from Victory Monument, paying 160 BHT and 2 hours later we were in Pak Chong, the town nearest the park. We arrived in Pak Chong not really knowing what to do next, but we were soon met by a really helpful park guide who gave a lift to our Tour company Green Leaf Tour, talk about great service. http://www.greenleaftour.com/
Things I learnt on the way to the park...
- Khao yai is the oldest national park in Thailand
- Khao yai is a world heritage site
- Khao yai is the 2nd largest park in Thailand, 2000 sq km
More facts available: http://wikitravel.org/en/Khao_Yai_National_Park
|Bat cave temple|
About 5 minutes into our drive to the National Park our driver stops suddenly and the guide jumps out of the cab and then charges into the undergrowth. He soon returned carrying a snake! He'd seen it hanging from a tree whilst driving past at 20 or 30 miles an hour - impressive!
Our first stop after that was a cave underneath a Buddhist temple. The monks use the cave to go down to meditate in the dark with bats.
We climbed down some steep stairs with our guide Joe to this fantastic cave full of stalactites and stalagmites. We could hear the sound of bats as we ventured further into the dark. Then, shining our torches up to the ceiling we could see them hanging down. Shining the light or taking pictures didn't startle them, but we were sure quiet as a group as went around the cave.
Suddenly the guide got us all to stand perfectly still then he pointed to an area on the floor where we could all see a Tarantula! After we'd calmed down a bit our guide told us a bit about Tarantulas and when we'd reassured ourselves that it wasn't going to suddenly launch itself at us we carried on further into the cave. Everyone kept their torches on the tarantula as they walked away though just in case.
|Mr cave Tarantula|
Facts about bats - they are mammals just like us, their body temperature is 36' C and they always hang off of the same bit of rock in the cave. They also leave their cave at the same time each evening to go feed (more of that later)
A sight to behold
At the bigger cave where there is an amazing site to see. Each evening the bats go hunting, all 2 million of them, at the same time!
We stood just outside the cave entrance and over the course of an hour watched 2 million bats leave over the course of an hour. So, 2 million over an hour is 55 odd per second flying out the cave mouth. Very cool thing to see!
Night time swim
After watching the bats until it went dark we went to natural spring, night-time swim.
The swim sounded lovely at first but people were quite wary of jumping in, imaging that their would be all sorts of leeches etc in the water.
However, once we plucked up courage and jumped in it was lovely!
Back to base afterwards to dry and get changed into dry stuff.
|2 million bats flying through the air|
Mine started nice then I messed it up adding spices. (doh!)
Maria makes best friends with romeo the dog, feeds him pork balls
Finished with random pancake, stringy candy floss desert thing that I bought earlier on.
Power breakfast had in the morning with lots of fruit to keep us going throughout the day.
We set off in the truck and shortly entered the park. After a bit of negotiation and showing my work permit I managed to get in at the local of 40 BHT instead of the foreigner 400 BHT price.
After only a few minutes driving in the park saw Macaque monkeys, a great way to start the national park experience!
|In national parks animals rule the road|
Top tip: If you go into the jungle put on leech socks. They are very, very useful. I had no idea leeches were on land, I just thought they were in still pools but these guys actually chase after anything that moves on the ground, hundreds of them. It was quite a site seeing them gather around you if you stood still too long.
After a while we stopped at a great photo spot which showed a fantastic view of the park.
|The tropical park|
Shortly after we went looking for Gibbons. Shortly after we spotted some hanging out and chatting in the trees. Gibbins grow baby 1 year then carry for 3, gibbon family has about 1 sq km to itself and fights for that. They also talk loudly to each other and other groups.
Highlights during the day
Chinese water lizard
|Chinese water lizard|
Our guide was determined to find a scorpion for us, and had explored several holes during the day looking for them. While we had our lunch stop he went off again and proudly returned with this guy, in his pocket!
During his talk we learnt that this scorpion wouldn't kill you, but a much smaller, browner one would.
|Just a "medium" size scorpion apparently|
As the group walked along we all missed this chap asleep in a tree - without a guide you'd either miss everything or stand on it by accident
As a snack we had this lovely rice and banana thing in a banana leaf, called something like Khao to ma (not the correct Thai I'm sure)
|Rapids leading to the fall|
Haew Narok Waterfall
- 100M high
- Best seen in the rainy season
- Quite a tricky walk from the car park to the actual falls up and down several steps of stairs.
|Standing proudly at the falls after the long walk to get there|
Other things we saw
|Bear marks on this tree|
|Bravely entering the jungle|
|Our guide fearlessly looking for other wildlife to show us|
|Strangling fig tree|
|Maria posing with her leech socks|
It's well worth visiting Khao Yai in my opinion and it's a very easy weekend trip from Bangkok. It was quite a reasonably priced adventure too, costing me just a little over 2,000 BAHT.
Next time you've got a weekend free and fancy a change of scene I'd recommend checking it out.