Khao Yai

11 Mar

While our lovely visitors were here in Thailand, we took a little day trip to Khao Yai National Park. Khao Yai is a 3-hour drive outside of Bangkok, and is one of Asia’s largest remaining monsoon forests. It is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meaning it’s pretty awesome and people think it’s worth preserving. Sidenote: I have a mental collection going of how many UNESCO sites I visit – I think I’m up to 5 on 3 different continents! Anyway, Khao Yai is beautiful, with lovely waterfalls and a good variety of wildlife. Oh, the gibbons…

Our trip began quite early in the morning in an attempt to avoid Bangkok traffic. Mr.Chi, the friendly driver who was recommended to me by people at school, picked us up in his van at 5:30 am, after we had the dubious pleasure of seeing Bangkok’s seedy underbelly exposed in the early morning light in the form of German tourists taking Thai prostitutes back to their hotel. Despite this beginning, the day progressed nicely. Mr.Chi brought us to the Greenleaf Guest House in Khao Yai, the tour company I chose to show us around. Our guide proceeded to outfit us with leech socks (see fashionable photos below) to keep off the ticks (and presumably leeches in the rainy season), and load us into a sorng-taa-ou. I’m not going to lie, part of the fun of having visitors was loading them into every conceivable form of bizarre Thailand transportation I could find, and the sorng-taa-ou definitely qualified. Fun fact: a while back I learned that sorng-taa-ou means “two rows”; sorng or song means “two”, and I assume taa-ou translates as “row”.

Our guide/driver drove us to the park – up, up, up along a winding road with the air temp growing noticeably cooler as we gained elevation. Once we reached the park itself, our driver slowed the truck to a crawl. He and his helper peered out the windows, searching for wildlife. Upon spotting something – a snake, a bird, a gibbon – they would pull the truck over, grab a telescope, set it up for us, and point out whatever fascinating species had caught their eye. Once, the helper hopped out of the moving truck and came back with a long, white snake; the ladies were less than amused when it seemed like he was going to bring it into the back of the truck with us! We saw multiple gibbons and macaques, and several types of birds. Our guide turned out to be an avid bird watcher. He had a Canon camera similar to mine with a much snazzier zoom, and several times he switched his lens onto my camera to take photos for me. Check out the photos of the huge hornbill below. We saw one feeding its mate while she sat on the nest, and another flying through the air. Personally, I thought the hornbill was the most interesting form of wildlife we saw. Its wingspan is over 6 feet, so it makes quite a racquet when flying. The wings go whomp, whomp, whomp as they flap, and the noise when it glides sounds like a fighter jet is coming your way. Fascinating.

After stalking wildlife from the sorng-taa-ou, we headed into the woods for a 2-hour walk (the tour company called it trekking, some nameless individuals called it hiking, I called it a walk through the woods as we did not lose or gain significant elevation). We saw more birds and gibbons, and trails through the woods and fields where wild elephants had passed. Sadly, we did not see any actual elephants. We had a picnic lunch, then visited Nam Tok Haew Suwat (nam tok means waterfall in Thai). The waterfall was quite lovely, and apparently is seen in the movie The Beach, a less-than-thrilling movie starring Leonardo Dicaprio that contains lots of Thailand scenery. We concluded the tour by driving around the park, unsuccessfully looking for elephants from the back of the sorng-taa-ou. We did however see a sambar deer, aka the largest deer I have ever seen in my life, basically your standard whitetail on steroids. All in all, a fun day was had!


4 Responses to “Khao Yai”

  1. Elaine McCormick March 11, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    These are great; thanks for the blog and photos. I enjoyed both of them and appreciate it so much. The rest of the family will appreciate it as well because they finally get to see some pictures from one of my vacations.

  2. Pat Zurawell March 11, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    I am a friend of Elaine’s and love to travel as she does. We always share our travel adventures. Darcy, your blog and chronicling of the group’s trip are fantastic! Best wishes to you and Tony. Pat Zurawell


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