After I got classes out of the way, I went to Khao Yai National Park with Dyana and a group of friends. Dyana, my friends Mat and Jake, and I left a day later to catch up with our friends. To get there, you take a bus to Pak Chong and then you’re supposed to hire a pick up truck to take you the rest of the way. By the time we were ready to leave, it was too dark out and no one was willing to take us (plus our friends at the camp ground said they were completely unprepared to entertain themselves when it got dark at 7) so we spent the night in this little town. We checked into our hotel and then decided to walk around town, and quickly found out there was absolutely nothing to do there. The foreigner bar that we were directed to as being the “hot spot” of the evening was completely empty. So, we came back to the hotel and ended up watching Godzilla—I had no idea it was such a bad movie?! Then the next morning we pulled ourselves out of bed and made our way to the park around 7.
On our way there, we discovered the pick up truck we hired was not in fact a pick up truck at all, but more of a large tuk-tuk (3 wheel motorcycle-truck) and it barely made us to the gates, let along through the actual hills of the park. So we got stuck paying yet another truck to take us to the actual campgrounds. After that initial hiccup, we found our friends and set up tents at a more happenin camp than they stayed at the night before. Everyone else in the campground was all Thai, and were so excited to see farang (white foreigners) that they were asking to take pictures with us, and offering us glasses of their whiskey (11am—Thai’s LOVE whiskey) After getting settled, we found a trail and starting hiking through the forest. For the most part we hiked along a river looking for any waterfalls. This involved a lot of slipping and climbing up and down rocks, perfect for someone who only brought Vans to Thailand! We stopped at one large waterfall, probably about 30-40 feet tall and a few of the brave ones decided to jump in off a high ledge. I decided to take cool pictures of them using the sequence mode of my camera:
We followed the trail for about another hour, before it spit us out back on a road. From there, we found signs promoting a waterfall, and we went to that, which was a lot more impressive than the one we had been to. Sadly, the waterfalls are only flowing full force during the rainy season, so everything was pretty dried up.
We walked around and sat on the top of the waterfall and hung out there, before deciding to head back to camp. Anticipating our future boredom, I used a notepad to make a deck of cards, and we played a few card games until it got too dark outside. We socialized with a few Thai’s who spoke very little English, but had very good food with them. Then, we decided to go on a “night safari” and – surprise! – we were tricked by false advertising. Although we were promised elephants (and some people actually thought we’d get to ride them) the trip turned out to be just us sitting in the back of a truck while a lady searched the trees and fields for animals with a spotlight. We saw a lot of trees, and a few deers, and that was about it. I guess you can’t expect too much when you only pay 100baht? Meeting Thai people was more fun anyways, so we came back to them and they actually invited us to go with them searching for the big waterfall the next day.
So, come morning, we all piled into a covered truck, with a few of us sitting off the back, and drove about 10 km to the big waterfall. The hike to get there just involved walking down a couple hundred of the smallest, steepest stairs I’ve ever seen. Sadly, the massive waterfall was reduced to a trickle in the dry season, so there wasn’t much to see except an extremely large cliff. It would have been amazing in November though! Luckily, our Thai friends offered to drive us back to Pak Chong to catch our bus. They were really nice, and we exchanged emails and phone numbers in case they ever decided to come to Bangkok. This offer was misinterpreted though (as most things are here) and many of us have received emails and multiple phone calls from them just saying how much they miss us and asking for pictures of all of us. Kind of creepy.
After spending a night catching up on sleep in Bangkok, I took Dyana to Ko Samet so she could get a glimpse of the island life of Thailand. We went during the week, so it was a lot quieter than my last visit to the island. We spent our time lounging on the beach, and during the full day we had on the island, we took a speedboat tour of the smaller islands nearby. We went to 3 different islands that had better snorkeling then Ko Samet, and then got to visit a fish farm on Ko Samet. We had to walk around on really shaky platforms right next to the open nets of some type of sharks and really big fish, so I got a little nervous.We ended our time at this island by getting a Thai massage on the beach. Thai massages here are amazing, full body massages that take about an hour and involve the masseuse actually moving around your body and stretching you. Thais view massages as a way to stay healthy rather than an indulgence, so a typical hour-long massage only costs about 150Baht, or about $5. Awesome!