Thursday, January 5, 2012

Khao Sok National Park

On the morning of December 20th, we left home with our backpacks and headed out on a two week adventure throughout Thailand. We traveled via various modes of transport during our trip, and within the first 48 hours we had many of these modes covered! The Melbourne airport is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, so to get there from our house we take a 20 minute tram (mode 1) ride followed by a 20 minute bus ride (mode 2). Our nearly 9 hour flight (mode 3) to Phuket was relatively uneventful, although we did end up waiting on the plane for about an hour before we took off, delaying our departure for the Land of Smiles. Upon our arrival in Phuket, I had arranged for private transportation with Phuket Airport Limousine Service to take us to Khao Sok. Normally you could take a public bus, but because our flight was arriving around 5pm, the buses in that area were all finished running for the day. We rode in a "limo" (mode 4), which in Thailand means a beat-up Toyota Camry, for about 2 hours until we finally reached our destination!

In Khao Sok we stayed at Evergreen House, which is owned by Gai and Noi, who were incredibly kind and helpful hosts. Our limo drivers hadn't spoken much English, so it made for a quiet cab ride. That wasn't the case at Evergreen House, so we enjoyed asking questions about Khao Sok and Thailand in general to Gai and Noi. They prepared us deliciously cheap food and it was here that I had my first "big Chang", the most widely available beer in Thailand that costs approximately $1.50 for a 650ml bottle. Our accommodation for that night was basically a tree house, for which we paid 300 Baht (less than $10). It was clean and it was really fun to be sleeping in a tree! It was here that I realized that most toilets in Thailand are not standard flushing. No paper products go into the toilet and often you have to manually flush your toilet, so there will be a bucket of water with a bowl next to the toilet for your use. I remember that we actually had to do this once in Elkridge when our pipes were being worked on and the HOA refused to put us up in a hotel. Ahhhh, good times. ANYWAY, here are some photos of Evergreen House:
Our "tree house"
A glimpse inside the tree house
The first of many pineapple pancakes to be consumed by Erik. Cost: approximately $1.
Originally I wanted Erik and I to hike and explore Khao Sok on our own, but after much reading and deliberation, I decided that a guided tour was the way to go. Typically we aren't into group tours, but this was certainly not the typical tour and in the end it was a great decision. We were picked up by our tour guide, Bom (pronounced "Bum", though Erik repeatedly called him "Bomb", ha), and transported literally 400 meters to the place next door (why didn't we just walk?!), where we met the rest of our group. Then, we piled in the back of a sorng-taa-ou, which is basically a pick up truck with two rows of bench seating (mode 5), for an hour drive into the park.

Finally, we took our first of many long-tail boat rides (mode 6) on Chiaw Lan Lake. The lake was created in 1982 by the Ratchaprapha Dam, and is 100 meters deep in some places. The scenery on the boat ride was stunning, though it was foggy and hard to capture in photos. Huge chunks of limestone climbing out of the beautifully clear water.
Bom is wearing the black shirt. The blonde in front of us is Tiina from Finland and the girl with the hat is Ivana from Croatia.
After an hour boat ride, we arrived at our home for the night, the Ton Toey floating raft houses!

Delicious Thai food was included on this trip, so we had lunch, went for a swim, and then got ready to head off on our first hike, which was to a cave within the park.

The hike to the cave was through a jungle, but we didn't see much wildlife on the hike. We heard many birds and also some screeching cicadas. We think that Bom has ADHD, because throughout the hike he was making us hats out of leaves and jewelry out of rattan. It's obvious that he's been doing this for a long time because his work was quite impressive!

Erik was not left out of the hat making process!
Waving goodbye with the largest leaf ever before entering the cave.
The first part of the cave hike was filled with huuuuuuge spiders, bats, and a lot of cool scenery.

This is a BIG rock. This guy is about the size of my hand.

Note the headlamp. Obviously it was completely dark in the cave. This is not like going for a walk in Luray Caverns! Also note the "water bottle on a ribbon" that Bom made for each of us before we started the hike. Clever man.
Before we left for the hike, Bom told us that we should be prepared to get wet up to our necks. He said that we would have to swim through water in the cave and he brought a dry bag to hold our cameras during the hike. While Bom spoke decent English, he was still hard to understand at times and honestly I thought he was exaggerating about how deep the water was going to get in the cave. WRONG! We most definitely had to swim at one point and water was rushing down like a waterfall where we had to get into the water. Bom took heaps of photos of us hiking through the water using Ivana's camera and she's planning on sending me those once she returns from her travels in mid-January, so I'll have to add those at a later date!

We returned to our home for the night where we did some additional swimming before having dinner. After dinner we went on an evening long-tail ride to look for wildlife. We spotted a few owls and some other sleeping birds (I cannot remember what type they were but they were quite large!).

The next day we went out on another boat ride to look for wildlife where we encountered this guy:

During the day we had some free time, which we actually used to swim and then rest (we were still catching up from all of the traveling to get to Thailand), but others took kayaks out on the lake and spotted more monkeys. We said goodbye to our floating raft house and headed back in the direction of park headquarters, where we would do one more hike before leaving the park.

Again, we noted the spectacular limestone cliffs on our ride out of the area, but it was still foggy so pictures do not do it justice. We made our way to another floating home in the park, where we would begin our hike to the snake cave.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?!), we did not encounter any snakes. We did, however, encounter more bats and more HUGE spiders.

We hiked to a viewpoint as well, but couldn't see much with the fog. After our hike we had another yummy Thai lunch and then headed back to the visitors center, where Erik and I would begin our loooooong journey to our next destination, Koh Tao.


  1. Great to read about your adventures in Thailand Ashley. Looking forward to the next installment!

  2. Great adventures in Thailand Ashley.Nice picture collections for Khao Sok National Park.

    khao Sok Resort

    1. Thanks, Syrius! We loved Khao Sok National Park and I hope that this post helps others to plan their trips to the area.