Sunday, May 22, 2005

Get Lost

The Thai countryside was beginning to bore me as the area around Bangkok is rather monotonous: all flat land full of paddy fields and grim villages, interspersed by the occasional lotus-choked canal. So I decided to visit Khao Yai national park (home to that waterfall featured in the film The Beach, which, it pains me not in the least to say, I haven't seen either). I didn't pick the best time to visit the park though, as it was a long weekend and there were hordes of locals around. Luckily the Thais seem to take the same approach to tourism as the Japanese, that is to say they want the most views with the least effort possible (if it's not within 200m of a car park then it's not worth seeing). Therefore I only saw 2 people in 4.5 hours hiking, which suited me down to the ground.

The hiking perhaps wasn't as good as in the Cameron Highlands, but this was made up for by the diversity and abundance of animals. I managed to see some wild elephants splashing about in a stream, hornbills, sambar deer, untold numbers of insects and, whilst taking a wrong turning and getting slightly lost, a group of gibbons. They and the elephants really made my day, which just goes to show that sometimes getting lost can be very rewarding. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I also came across armies of the jungle trekkers scourge: leeches. Literally in their hundreds; you could see them waving about on the trail hoping to catch some poor, unsuspecting passer-by. Luckily I had come prepared and had tucked my trousers into my socks (I know, major fashion faux pas, but luckily only those two Thais saw me; phew). So, slowly but surely, I'm ticking off the animals to be seen. Now if I can just find a tiger...

P.S. Along with some recent photos, I've also added a sound recording (I've just discovered that that's one of the things my MP3 gizmo does) of the jungle sounds to my photo album site. You might think the jungle is rather quiet, but far from it, when you're there you're constantly bombarded by an almost physical wall of sound produced by the elusive cicadas.

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