Our guide Klinn, once more picked us up nice and early from the hotel, in the same truck as yesterday for the long drive to Khao Yai National Park. On the journey we saw that everywhere was still very wet after the last night’s downpour. Today it was just going to be me and Liz on the tour as Dominik had gone back to his home in Bangkok yesterday, so although he would not be there his antics would not be easily forgotten.
The first place we visited on today’s trip was Heaw Narok which is the biggest waterfall the park has to offer. Klinn told us a bit about the falls, that the lowest level alone is 80m high gives some idea of the scale of the place. She also related the sad story of how during some extreme floods a baby elephant wandered too near the water’s edge and got swept away by the torrents as did one or two of the adults trying to save it. This is why the area now has an ‘elephant-proof’ fence around it to stop the animals getting so close to the riverside – well done to the park. The rains of last night and today’s resulting power of the falls, showed us just how quickly such flash flooding could occur. The moisture from the fall’s spray was even drenching us at the very back of the viewing platform, at the front you could hardly see the waterfall the spray was like a thick and wet fog. On the way to the falls we had seen a Giant Millipede that Klinn thought would look quite good on me as a bracelet – ugh! Liz was not interested in trying on my accessories though and as we walked further we came across a couple of poisonous spiders! I walked passed these very quickly just in case she wanted me to wear one as a broach or something!
After the falls, on the way back to our transport, Klinn spotted another green venomous snake but this one was ‘just’ a White Lipped Tree Viper, this must have been an unusual thing to see as she went somewhat ‘crazy mad for it’ whilst pointing it out to us. After the three of us had had a good look at the snake Klinn explained some of her excitement. She had actually seen this type of snake before in the park but at that time had no means of recording the event and as this species was not even supposed to live in the park it was quite big news. Unfortunately with no evidence her news was treated with quite a bit of derision by her co-workers. This time though she was going to make sure she had plenty of photos, from every angle too. More importantly, or so I thought, as we were leaving the falls we came across a snail with its shell on sideways! Instead of it being up and him wearing it on his back, it was merely ‘balanced’ across his back, like a slug that had had a snail’s shell badly thrown at it! Before we got back to our transport we saw a big Tarantula-looking spider down it’s hole but we dare not tempt it out so we left it keeping lookout.
Next on our tour of the park was the trek to the Pha Kluai Man waterfall which follows the natural watercourse all the way to the falls and far after. It was a great stroll and even turned into a bit of a reptile-fest but even before the animals, I really just enjoyed the actual experience of walking in the jungle. It was really heartwarming, even if you do not see much wildlife the trees themselves are wild enough. Without trying to sound too ‘hippy’ they are all different kinds of shapes and seem to do their best to twist themselves in a bid to strangle their neighbours and every now and then you simply realise that you are witnessing some of the Earth’s very slowest and yet fiercest battles and here in the jungle you do seem to get a better idea of what these battles are all about, there seems to be movement even in the stillnesss of the trees here. The combatants are even decorated in their army colours by the bright fungi that seem to adorn them.
Tree-love over, the first animal-thingy to be found on this walk though was not spotted by Klinn but by another guide and his group that were a short ways ahead of us – another Green Scorpion – same as yesterday. So, Klinn set about tormenting the thing a bit before letting me calm it with my healing hands just before it stung me … lol … it didn’t really sting me but that’s what that part of the day’s story needed!
Next the reptiles put in an appearance most of them sat sunning themselves by the river, first up Klinn spotted a Water Monitor on the other side of the river, perched on a log. I needed to use the camera’s zoom just to pick it out a bit better. Then we had ourselves a bit of a stop for a rock on yet another Tarzan swing vine, where Liz did a bit of posing for me before we carried on down alongside the river and saw a huge Crocodile having forty winks on a log in the middle of the river and near to it another Monitor taking its chances and sneaking up on the Croc. Klinn told us that the big Croc was a great sighting as there are only supposed to be four in the entire park, lucky old us eh!
We then saw a couple more, very green, Chinese Water Dragons on a tree together – Klinn thought they may be male and female though how she could spot the differences I have no idea as I could not pick that up even with Super-(genitalia-spotting)-Zoom on the go! Then, after all the reptilia, we saw a whole load of some of the strangest looking creatures I have ever seen – Cicadas – they were all on the side of a tree and they looked like they had wee periscopes all pointing upwards and outwards – great for seeing over walls and stuff or so I imagined! This was the last part of the morning’s trekking as the river carried onwards into the jungle whilst the walking path took us back towards the car park and our transport.
So it being dinnertime we drove back for the restaurant for another, not so hot, bite to eat but once again the deer did not fail to entertain and me and Liz further amused ourselves by taking a couple more photos to show off our natty blue leech socks – very dapper we looked in them too. Before long though we were back up and at ‘em for more of the tour, this time we were off to have a look from one of the park’s viewpoints. Although daytime it was beginning to turn a bit dark and gloomy and on our way there the heavens opened but somehow it made the view over the jungle from the viewing point even that bit more impressive. The mist was rising up from the trees and in the distance the rains were pouring downwards and it was all happening at the same time, it was just magnificent to watch. Round this area there were a good few Macaques coming down from the trees and venturing onto the roadside, quite a few of them mothers with their young – it looked like the Alpha male of the group had definitely been a very busy chap! The young, as I suppose is the same with human young, had their hair done in punk-style – outrageous and very anti-establishment!
We then went off to the final part of the tour, another viewing platform and this was literally a platform! To be fair the photos do not do it justice as the rock we went and stood on seemed a lot thinner when I was stood on it than the actual photo portrays. Liz did not seem to mind it a bit but my fear of heights kicked in a bit and I had to shuffle my feet in order to make my way out onto the ledge but even then I dare not get too near the end – if you look close enough you can see the trepidation on my face … I was crapping myself … gulp, lol!
Well the park’s final view finished off what had been yet another great day of animal spotting and after the long trip back to the hotel we said a good few heartfelt goodbyes to Klinn. She had been a truly great guide and hadn’t kicked me with her stabby shoes at all! (see Klebb reference from the day before!) Once ‘home’, and after the day we had had, we decided to treat ourselves and go for yet another ‘BBQ in a pot’ but this time we finished it off with an early night so we could get up nice and early for tomorrow’s trip to Khorat.