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March 7, 2007

Khao Yai National Park Visit

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Per Brian’s request, I am composing a guest entry for the blog. Of course I am also going to mention that he felt so poorly that he doesn’t remember most of this leg of the journey.

Monday evening we arrived at the Palm Garden Lodge near Pratchin Buri. We were happy to arrive after 10 hours on the road from Koh Chang, which included riding on two very slow and poorly air-conditioned buses that made lots of stops. The Lodge was really pretty and they take great care in keeping all of the grounds in beautiful condition with lots of trees and flowers. There were also fresh-cut flowers on the dining tables every day.

After breakfast Tuesday morning we headed to Khao Yai National Park with 10 other people also staying at the Lodge. This Park was the first national park established in Thailand and is also the country’s largest. Despite Brian’s general lack of energy to do much of anything, he wanted to go along. But if he had known what was coming he may have stayed at the Lodge so he could sleep all day!

After an hour’s drive and stopping at the visitor’s center where we saw a Gibbon,¬†we were dropped off at a trail head for what we were told was a 4 km hike. (Brian thinks it was actually 6 km.) They provided us with all the water bottles we could carry and a few oranges too.

Our guide stopped frequently at first and we were amongst the trees so the sun was not bearing down on us. The growth within the forest is so interesting. Many of the tree roots are hanging down from the trees or they are on top of the ground. It made for very interesting walking and some odd-looking trees. Unfortunately our group was a little on the noisy side due to the size, so we were not able to see much wildlife as we had hoped and anticipated. All we saw were a few more Gibbons, but our guide pointed out bear markings on trees.

There are about 500 tigers in the park but we didn’t see any of those either. Some trees in the park are used to make Malaria medicine so we saw quite a few of those that had been scraped up to get to the important part. Our guide said one kilogram of the tree is valued at 10,000 Baht ($3,300 US) in Thailand or 100,000 Baht ($33,000 US)¬†outside of the country. (33Baht = 1USD)

Brian was doing ok so long as he could stop and rest frequently. But the stops didn’t continue all through the hike and about the last 1/2 was a “death march” in the heat (as I heard someone call it) and luckily Brian was able to make it and we didn’t have to carry him to the van. After lunch we headed to one of the park’s waterfalls. There wasn’t a lot of water because it is not the rainy season, although according to our guide you can’t hike during the rainy season without plastic socks of some sort otherwise your feet will be covered in leeches. I’m glad we missed that adventure–I’ll take the heat and the small waterfall any day over that.

Green Tree Snake

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Green Tree Snake

 

We then toured more of the park on the way to a bat cave and saw some wildlife during the drive. The cave was about half-way up the side of a big hill and as we were waiting for the bats to come out there were a few vultures circling overhead waiting for them also. Once the first bats flew out there was a never-ending stream of them that followed. They are fruit bats that were headed to the Park where there was ample food for them. After a very long day and Brian about ready to keel over we still had a 2-hour drive back to the Lodge.

On Wednesday we had planned to visit the ancient city of Ayatthuya, but with Brian feeling so poorly we nixed those plans and stayed in Prachin Buri an extra day. We did absolutely nothing but rest and take a short walk to a very small market. Thursday morning we headed back to Bangkok and Brian was finally feeling better and not worn out from every little thing.

Well it has been an adventure since I arrived on the 25th but unfortunately I have to leave Saturday morning. My boss threatened to come get me if I didn’t return. It has been fun even though not quite what we had planned. But as Brian has already found out plans seem to be made to be changed.

Michelle

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