First, we rode on a “long-tail boat” (a wooden boat with a very long propeller mounted on the back) for about an hour across the lake to a ranger station where we would spend the night. Because the limestone cliffs rise almost straight out of the water, there is practically no flat ground available on which to build offices and hotel rooms.
So instead, everything is built right on the lake: the buildings are all floating on bamboo rafts and rotting logs. Kind of cool, but a little sketchy: walking on the floating “sidewalks” that connected one building to the next, I always wondered if I was about to sink. Regardless, we were assigned to a small floating cabin, and moments after dropping our
stuff off in the room we changed into swimsuits and jumped into the clear, cool water. Perfect. We spent the rest of the day eating tasty food provided by the rangers, kayaking, swimming, and cruising around in a longtail boat looking for monkeys. That night, after a truly tropical downpour, the jungle frog noises were amazing. Bullfrogs and peepers galore! And, as we walked down the “sidewalk” there were lots of cute plops as they jumped into the water to avoid our steps.
The next day we returned to Smiley Bungalow, spent one more night in Khao Sok, and boarded a bus bound for Krabi.
McNeill, still on U.S. time, woke up at 4:00 in the morning on Monday, August 17, totally awake. I, on the other hand, slept like a baby until she lost her patience and poked me awake a few hours later. We packed up and headed to the Surat Thani bus station, where we caught a bus to Khao Sok National Park. The friendly and efficient man who sold us our tickets wrote "Khao Sok" on stickers and very carefully stuck them on our shirts—so we wouldn't get misplaced. We had arranged to stay at a place called Smiley Bungalow, and indeed, our accommodation consisted of a quaint little room on concrete stilts looking out over the jungle. And the owners, true enough, smiled a lot. We spent a day hiking around the forest and splashing in a swimming hole. On Wednesday, we joined a guided tour of Khao Sok’s vast lake/reservoir, an immense body of water rimmed by incredible limestone cliffs. The landscape was almost unbelievable.