Friday, March 28, 2008

Khao Yao National Park

The bus trip from Sukhothai to Pak Chong seemed like one of the longest rides I have done on the trip so far. It was only about 10 hours but even though the busses say they have AC it puts out so little air I found this bus hotter inside than outside. I was really happy to make it to Pak Chong and find a hotel with AC.

The reason for stopping in Pak Chong was to visit Khao Yao National Park. I arranged a tour to see the park. It was a small group of only 4 people including the guide. When we first arrived at the park we saw some people staring at the trees so we stopped and joined them looking at 2 gibbons. There was a gray and a brown one and here is a picture that the guide took using my camera and his binoculars.

After seeing the Gibbons and going through the visitors center we took a walk in the jungle. Prior to going into the jungle the guide gave us leech leg covers. These were sock like things that had a drawstring at the top to keep them held up and you tuck your pant legs into them. The guide pointed out different plants and trees in the jungle and I found the cinnamon tree interesting. The tree smelled like what I use out of a little bottle. We could hear a great hornbill but were unable to see it. We did see a group of Macaque Monkeys in the trees. Then the rain started. It was a real down pour and we started moving a lot faster. My leech things would not stay up and I did not have time to stop and pull them up with us moving faster because of the rain. As we were walking to get out of the rain I saw a shocked look on the guides face and he turned around and said did you see that to the group. He said a clouded leopard had just run past about 4 meters ahead of us. No one but the guide had seen it and I am never sure on something like this if the guide is just trying to impress the group or really did see the cat. He did look really surprised so if nothing else he is a good actor.

On arriving back at the truck someone found a leech on one of their leg covers and since mine were down around my ankles I had a couple of the things having dinner on my legs. I pulled the little insects off my legs and set them free well feed. Later in the day we ran into a group of people that had shorts on and no leg covers that had been walking in the jungle. Their legs were really bloody and not pleasant looking. I think it looked a lot worse than it was or at least I hope so.

We stopped for lunch and I had the best pork curry that I ate in Thailand. It was so good when they ask if I wanted another I could not pass it up. The place that we ate had macaque monkeys running around and these were not like the ones in the woods as these had lost their fear of humans. They had problems with a monkey going into the kitchen and helping himself. Have I said I don’t like these monkeys that are use to being around people. This is one that seemed to chase the truck later in the day and I was ready with my water bottle to hit him over the head if he caught us.

We made our way to the waterfall that is in the movie “The Beach”. It is nowhere near a beach and it is not on an island but it is pretty and with the magic of movies it can appear anywhere. It was also going to be used in a Thai TV show that was there getting ready to film when we arrived. They were using the top part of the waterfall and had it closed off but we were able to walk down to the bottom and take pictures.

We drove up to a cliff that looked out over a valley and it was way up on a mountain. The trees and plants were completely different then what we had seen in the Jungle. This is a picture of the view from the cliff.

On the drive up the guide stopped the truck when he saw a sliver pheasant. I saw the bird just before it ran into the woods but a couple of the people in the group missed it also. Not sure if it was the same one but we saw another one on the way down and I tried to take a picture but just got a gray blur.

We went past a couple of the salt licks and at one of them there were 2 wild elephants. This was right along the side of the road and a number of other vehicles stopped and together we must have taken thousands of pictures.

We had seen some of the deer in the park earlier in the day but as it was getting late in the afternoon and they were really active on our way out of the park. We stopped to take pictures. These are Sambar Deer which are the bigger of the 2 types we saw.

And these are Barking Deer.

The guide had pointed out a Great Hornbill flying way off in the distance when we were at the cliff but as we were leaving the park I was happy to see one flying a lot closer. He was about 50 meters above the back of the truck.

I really enjoyed the day and was please to see as much wildlife as we did. I would have loved to see the clouded leopard but never expected to get that close to seeing one. The leopard is probably still telling his family about the strange looking beast with a beard he saw walking in the jungle.

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