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Monday, February 14, 2011

Jurassic Park...Also Known As Khao Yai

Friday I skipped out of school a little early to hop a bus to a tuk-tuk to a train to see Khao Yai National Park.  Nell and I purchased 3rd class train tickets for the three hour ride and quickly found ourselves the celebrities of the trip; we were surrounded by a Buddhist nun, the train conductors, dried fish/drink vendors, and about 10 high school boys who persuaded us to help them on the English portion of their Army entrance exam.  Many photos were snapped and I even noticed one of the boys change his phone background to a photo of me & him...flattering yet also slightly creepy.

 When we arrived at the hostel, Bobby's Jungle Apartments, we were met by our friends Katrina and Rachel and proceeded to exchange student/teacher stories and travel tips.  Early the next morning Becca arrived from Bangkok and our group was complete so we hopped in the songtow and set out on our jungle trek.  Our guide for the day, Non, decided that the theme of the trip was "sexy."  He was our "sexy guide" taking us through the "sexy park" to see the "sexy waterfalls" and "sexy elephants."  I think I looked more like a hot mess than anything else, but I'll take Non's word.

Our sexy guide: Non

The trek was actually quite the hike through the national park and we were lucky enough to have some very close encounters with the animals.  Our first spotting was an Asian Hornbill, a large and impressive bird with a 2-3 meter wingspan that made the bird sound like a helicopter taking flight when it took off through the trees. Non was psyched with our first spotting of the day and there were high-fives all around to celebrate.  The next animal we crossed paths with was a gibbon family chillin' high in the treetops.  We watched them play around with each other for about 20 minutes before they finally put on a show and started swinging through the trees.  It was pretty fascinating to watch them turn the jungle into their personal playground, we watched until our necks were sore from looking at the sky and continued our trek.

The next stop of the day was to a beautiful set of waterfalls that were featured in the movie "The Beach." Upon arrival at the falls we were told by a German couple that they had just had a run-in with a wild elephant off one of the paths, Non was immediately on the move and we were soon sprinting through the forest after him in an attempt to see the elephant for ourselves.  When we got closer we could hear the elephant but didn't yet have a visual until we saw the treetops shaking in the distance.  Rachel said it was reminiscent of the scenes in Jurassic Park when the characters see the trees shake a minute before the dinosaur comes barrelling through the forest.  We had a similar experience as the elephant got closer, our only instruction from Non was to run back the way we came.  We all found a spot to camp out and got some great pictures of the elephant staring us down but as soon as it got close we all took off to stay out of his path.  The last thing you want is an elephant to trample you, death by elephant just doesn't have a good ring to it.  I have to say spotting an elephant in the wild is so much better than riding it through the dusty streets of Ayutthaya or feeding it bananas out of the window of the bar down the street from my apartment.  They are massive animals and the way they move through the forest is quite amazing.
I spy an elephant! (photo by Rachel)
Non was living the dream chasing down all of these animals for us, and after a dip in the falls we had one last animal encounter on our way out of the park, a young King Cobra, or as Non called it "snake most poisonous."  We snapped some photos but were quick to be on our way and away from harm.  The next morning we explored an underground temple and took a dip in some natural springs before we began the journey back to Suphan.  It was a great weekend in the wild, being one with nature, getting away from the end of semester stress, etc. Now, it's back to school...Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!

BTW, check out a feature on my journey to Thailand with CIEE on Teaching Traveling's blog here:


  1. Sarah I love your adventures!! The gibbons are adorable. Thank you for being a blogging star :) I love every minute of it!!

  2. Extraordinary adventures, Sarah. Feeding bananas to the elephant out the window of a bar sounds pretty awesome to me...the rest of it does sound right out of Jurassic Park. Just amazing. xoxoxo Mary Ellen & Kenny


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