Koh Sok national park

Trip Start Feb 04, 2005
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Trip End ??? ??, 2006


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Sunday, March 20, 2005

After loads of buses here and there around Thailand, on reccomendation I decide to take the sleeper train down to Surat Thani and therefore arrive fresh and not have to worry about losing a day tired out due to lack of sleep on the bus. As you may be able to tell things generally dont run so smoothly for me, after settling into my third class recliner seat which looks fairly comfortable I get ready for the 12 hour journey. Just before the train is due to leave I meet the guy who is going to be sitting next to me he is nice enough, that is until I try to get to sleep. He figits and wriggles for what seems like the whole journey and I dont get a wink of sleep I am ready to throttle him by the time we arrive.

Following directions given to me by Lincoln I hop on to the public bus to Koh Sok national park. Travelling by public bus is great there is often very few westerners on them and they are very cheap. Understantably a little ratty after no sleep for 24 hours I just got to the nearest guesthouse when I arrive and check in. It turns out I am the only Guest which seems a little odd but I dont care I just want to sleep. I drag myself out of bed in the afternoon and wander down to the resturant to get something to eat. As I am the only guest the family all sit around me and watch me order, Bau the owner sits and chats to me while his wife cooks the food and I'm introduced to they're beautiful 6 month old baby Jasmine. Bau and family really make me feel very welcome although it does get a bit much when they start hassling me about getting up too late in the day. Talk about surrogate family!

I spend a couple of days exploring the national park, not quite the same as national parks we have in the UK. After about a kilometre of concrete road through the jungle the paths deteriorate to winding paths under the cool canapy directly into the jungle. Its a great way to get awy from the heat under the canopy but the humidity mean you are instantly soaked with sweat. Several of the tracks through Koh Sok end at a waterfall so generally the plan is to get there as fast as I can and then throw myslef into the cooling waters before trekking back agin. However on the first hike things don't go quite to plan. Wandering through the jungle through a beautiful valley on a precarious trail with troops of monkeys crossing overhead suddenly I hear a rumble of thunder. I think nothing of it at first and continue on. Then the rain hits, I have never seen anything quite like it the raindrops seemed the size of golfballs and I am instantly drenched ( drenched as in thrown in a swimming pool) I decide to turn back before I get washed away. Perhaps I should have thought about the whole tropical climate thing a little more.

Its great being out in the park it is so incredibly beautiful and so unlike anything I am used to. It feels really good to be doing something active and constructive for once I am seeing a part of thailand that has not suffered as much from the impact of tourism. Mel arrives after a distasterous journey from Bangkok (stuck on a broken down bus for five hours) Its great to see a familiar face and after a couple more treks to the waterfalls we arrange a boat trip to the Lake.

The national Park includes a huge lake created when a dam was put in in the early nineties. The trip we went on includes caving, trekking and accomodation on floating bungalows. There are four other people who coma long with us two Danish Guys Paul and Marnix and a couple from the UK Ian and Tamsin. We get to the bungalows by long tail boat across the lake just in time for lunch they are basic and damp but the setting could not be more beautiful. After a quick lunch its off for a hike to the caves. We are in the caves for about an hour. They are fascinating but there is only so much wandering around in the dark (usually in chest high freezing water) surrounded by bat droppings that I can take before it all starts to look the same. Totally drenched on the way back to the bungalows again so there is nothing for it but to leap ito the warm lake water and have a thrash about before dinner. A night safari is planned but after dinner our long tail boat driver (a freindly chap called big man) asks us if we really want to go. It not such a hard decision to make as he is well into his second bottle of whisky and can barely see let alone drive a boat. So a night of drinking games and Thai karaoke ensues - spot on!

Up at 7:30 in the morning (which is early but I dont mind as the gibbons have been calling in the jungle since about five) for a boat safari to make up for the one that we missed the night before. We see loads of monkeys and incredibly vibrant kingfisher unfortunately the only sign of the gibbons are the calls that echo around the cliffs.
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