Bang, bang, bang on the tin roof. As if the droning insects all night weren’t enough. I look out the window. Monkeys. Long tailed macaques. Quite a few of them. Time to get up.
Breakfast is a banana pancake for Lori and a pineapple pancake for me. We spend breakfast and half the morning solving our travel money crisis. I am thankful for my gadget (Samsung Galaxy S smartphone used only as a very small computer – mine doesn’t have a SIM card slot so no mobile service for it in Southeast Asia) and for Our Jungle Huts’ wifi signal. We log in to our Malaysian bank’s website and wire money to our US bank. Fortunately, Lori is able to receive text messages on her mobile phone (phone has a Malaysian SIM card – text but no calls in Thailand). We get the security code text message, enter it in the field in the bank’s website, and have travel money again. Relief.
Khao Sok National Park
We walk up the strip towards the entrance to Khao Sok National Park and stop at Numngern Coffee Shop and Restaurant to get a lunch to go. They make us some sandwiches and wrap them in banana leaves and tie them with twine. No plastic. All biodegradable packaging. Doesn’t get greener.
Khao Sok National Park covers about 646 square km (249 square miles) and is part of a 4,000 square km (1544 square miles) protected area that includes Kaeng Krung and Phang Nga National Parks and Khlong Nakha and Khlong Saen Wildlife Sanctuaries. The rugged and mountainous area is inhabited by wild elephants, dusky langurs, leopards, bantungs, several species of monkeys, snakes, and over 180 species of birds. The region is also home to Rafflesia kerri meijer, one of the largest flowers in the world.
A Trail North
We pay our 200 baht each park entrance fee and take the road to the San Yang Roi trailhead. On the way, we take a quick tour through the Visitor Center. The signs under the displays are in Thai, so I just check out the pictures and maps.
The trail ascends steeply up some stairs. Some of the trail is basic jungle track, other sections have stairs, rails, and viewing platforms. With views of the jungle.
We arrive at an area with a raised concrete platform and benches, and a dilapidated suspension bridge over a creek (or maybe they call this a river). The maps shows the trail to San Yang Roi crossing here. At one time, maybe you could use the bridge. But now it has signs on it that I guess say something like “this bridge is broken, stay off.” We eat lunch. Numngern’s sandwiches are tasty (and, of course, I pack out the banana leaves and twine instead of leaving them in the jungle).
A couple comes down the trail from where we were talking about hiking next. They seem rather agitated. I strike up a conversation. They are from Switzerland and didn’t get as far as the waterfall marked on the map. Leeches turned them back. Lots of them. They go back to checking themselves for leeches. Lori advises them if you just flick, brush, or pull them off, you tend to bleed a lot. The best thing to do is spray insect repellent on them or sprinkle them with salt. They’ll release and then you can get them off with minimal bleeding.
A Trail West
We decide to hike the other trail. Maybe fewer leeches there. We walk back towards the Visitor Center then get on the trail heading west. This section of trail is actually a dirt road. Eventually the trail turns north and it’s final point is Ton Kloi Waterfall, 7 km (4.3 miles) from the Visitor Center. We don’t walk that far.
About 3 km out (1.9 miles) a sign says “swimming that way.” So that way we go and splash around a bit in the Wang Yao swimming hole. Quite refreshing. Rains on us a bit. We call it a day and head back. On the way, we stop to watch a family of macaques move through the trees. I remove a leech from my ankle (following Lori’s instructions – only a little blood).
Thai Herb Restaurant
After a brief respite at our hut, we walk to dinner at Thai Herb Restaurant. There’s a beautiful garden in front of the restaurant giving the seating a secluded feel. Seating is available in the main area and out on the veranda. We take the veranda. There’s a brief section in the menu entitled Local Khao Sok Food. Many of the dishes listed here feature ferns and other items one might forage from the jungle. I order the local fried cauliflower dish. Quite good. Lori has sweet and sour prawns.
The power goes out. Guest and staff take it in stride. Just like everyone’s taken in stride that internet access has been down all day. Our waitress brings candles to the tables. The power is out so we get a candlelight dinner. Cooking is by propane stoves so the power outage doesn’t affect the kitchen so much. We go to pay our bill. We’re told they can’t make change. “No electron” and the cashier gestures towards the computer that runs the cash register. No worries. We come up with the right amount.
It’s a pleasant walk back to our hut with the way lit only by stars and moonlight.