The Jungles of Thailand

Trip Start Apr 17, 2001
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Trip End Ongoing


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Thursday, January 15, 2004

Are these noises coming from inside or outside of my head? The sounds are intense, almost claustrophobic. Hundreds, maybe thousands of creatures all with very different voices. All wanting to be heard at the same time. With all four windows opened wide, and an open-air bathroom, our only protection from the jungle is a flimsy nylon mosquito net. Except for a few hours in the middle of the night the sounds never cease.

Our Jungle House is the name of the place Ellen and I are staying on the edge of Khao Sok National Park in southern Thailand. Earlier in the day we'd asked Kris, the woman that runs the place, if we should keep our shutters closed at night. Kris said that she keeps hers open all the time and that the only large creatures that ever come into the rooms are the odd curious snakes. Of course all rooms in this part of the world have their share of little lizards (geckos) so they don't count. Windows open, windows closed, geckos come and go as they please.

For light we have a kerosene lamp. The en-suite bathroom is in itself an adventure. With only five-foot high walls surrounding the bathroom, the jungle outside creeps ever so close as you shower and do other business. Monkeys come by in early morn, then again at dusk. Outside our front door at the rivers edge there's a big yellow and black spider that sits in the centre of his web. From the vast expanse and strength of the web he must be waiting for a bird or maybe a small child to fly or stumble into it. Leaves and big twigs from the canopy above are the only things that get caught in his web while we watch though. I think little bugs must see this enormous trap from the distance and just stay away.

Across the river there is a limestone or Karst cliff that rises over 900 meters. The wall is so sheer that it strains your neck to look up towards the top. We are hidden to the west, at the base of this monster cliff. So imposing, this Karst cliff, that although the sun rises around 6:00AM, we don't see much light until after 9:00AM.

It's January, the dry season. Dry in a steam bath kind of way. Twenty four hours after we got here everything in our backpacks was damp. Wash your clothes here and they probably stay wet forever. If the dry season is wet, what would the wet season be like?

Elephants, buffalo, sun bear, gibbon and barking.....yes barking deer, flying lemurs and even the feared tiger inhabit Khao Sok Provincial Park. Yesterday we set off on a quest to visit these creatures. A six-hour hike into some of the densest jungle in Thailand. Two hours into our journey as we stealthily worked our way across a small riverbed we encountered our first creatures, little brown leeches. They had crawled through our socks. Huge circular blood stains on our socks and right through our hiking boots. No big deal. You just take off your boots and socks and you can peel the little suckers off with your fingernails.

Near the end of the trail, we met a couple who had spent the previous night in a tent deep in the jungle interior. The following morning, their guide pointed to an enormous tiger paw print near the river's edge. On our way back I couldn't help but wonder if just maybe the guides of Khao Sok carry tiger paw print makers in their knapsacks.
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