Khao Yai National Park in Thailand
13 June 2014
We will get to our Laos experience in a bit but we have just been in Khao Yai National Park in Thailand for two tours… one half day (yesterday) and a full day today. I will start with today! Not long after entering the park the guide got very excited about spotting a male great hornbill. As we are in the rainforest it us incredibly difficult to spot anything as you have to look up through the trees. But we did get a glimpse and it was spectacular.
This image is courtesy of Wikipedia!
Near the hornbills the Gibbons were calling and we went off into the forest to search for them (with our leech socks on). Our guide said that a family group lives in a sq km in the park. We found them and loved watching them swing and play in the trees. They are incredibly acrobatic and wonderful to observe. If they are not moving or calling they are impossible to see. The Lar Gibbons come in two colours, black or cream, and apparently it is entirely random what colour you will be.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Next walk was alongside a small river, but unfortunately it started raining just as we got going. What had started as a leisurely stroll looking for pittas (birds, not bread) turned into a leech-infested slosh along a soaking wet slippery track. We did manage to see one of the rare Siamese crocodiles along the way, but spent most of our time inspecting our feet and leech socks.
Ultimately, we reached the waterfall at the end but not without casualties. I removed a leech from Nancy’s armpit she took one from my back. After lunch I found an engorged one on my belly which dropped off as soon as I opened my shirt. We’re not the greatest fans of leeches!
In the afternoon we drove up to the (clouded over) viewpoint where there were some amazing moths and insects including a rhinoceros beetle, and then went searching for wild elephants. Eventually we found a lone female in musth who was walking along the road. Lovely to see, though difficult for me when I thought back to our last sightings in Africa where there were literally thousands…
12 June 2014
Started off at 5:00 at the great value Nong Khai Resort ($16/night). Resort is v near the train station which was perfect. Caught the 6:00 train to Pak Chong, the first train was A/C second class which meant open windows. We didn’t mind though as it wasn’t hot yet and the breeze was lovely. As there wasn’t any breakfast on the train I went across the road and bought what looked like ‘normal’ buns. Mine was okay it was filled with ? dates but John’s was full of luminous green jelly inside. Yummmmm
It stopped him throwing up his Doxycycline which was the point of breakfast!
We changed trains in Udon Thani for a six hour journey to Pak Chong where we were met and brought to our ‘resort’. We actually chose the Greenleaf guest house as the tour guides have a great reputation. The accom is basic (overpriced at $10/ night) and the food is very average and over-priced. (But the food we had tonight was much better… perhaps the chef has arrived for the weekend). The train journey was pretty dull as we couldn’t really see out the windows (dirty) and the terrain was very flat (thank you to those who kept me company on fb).
On arrival we chose the ‘day and a half’ tour, so set off at 3pm with our guide, Lek. His ability to spot animals was evident very quickly when he picked out an oriental whip snake in a tangle of branches – beautiful little snake! After some bird and insect spotting we headed into a cave where there were Lesser Horseshoe and Wrinkle Lipped bats, but also cave centipede, whip scorpion, and a large poisonous centipede.
Towards dusk, we went into the hills to watch a mass exodus of bats from their cave. It took a while, but in the end we watched a continuous stream of between 1 and 2 million bats disappear into the setting sun. Rather like seeing queleas, it’s the noise which seems most impressive. We had a lovely night drive back, seeing a Tokay? Gecko about 20cm long, and saw a Pit Viper on the road which Lek picked up and moved to safety (pointing out you would have about 8 hours to live without antivenene). A very interesting tour, and a delight to see wildlife again after the dearth in Laos.
That update has taken us about 2 hours so we will continue later…. and we will learn how to be more efficient!