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Khao Yai National Park

Bats, Gibbons & Wild Asian Elephants

sunny 33 °C

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Back in Bangkok again after a very exciting couple of days north of the nations capital at Khao Yai National Park and all I can say is Wow!!! We had such an amazing experience there and I can't wait to show you all the pictures and share some of the stories, so lets get started...

We took a bus from Bangkok's north bus station to the city of Pakchong which lays just outside of the park (the bus was only supposed to take around two and half hours and ended up being more like four and half lol). We had some interesting friends riding with us on it too...

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Yep thats a crate of roosters sitting right beside us lol. We were a little worried at first cause they wouldn't stop crowing when we first sat down lol. Maybe they were famous fighting cocks... should've got their autographs lol. Even with all the noise it still didn't stop a certain someone from crashing out...

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My baby can sleep through anything!

Before we left Bangkok I had contacted a guesthouse listed in one of our guidebooks and it turned out that they offered tours of the park for a very reasonable price (1500 baht each - $50) that included a half day tour for the first day and a full day tour/trek with lunch for the following day. As you will soon see an unbelivable deal... would've paid double... even a cheap ass like me! The guesthouse was also really nice, both room and price (300 baht - $10).

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So the hotel/tour company picked us up at the bus station and took us to the guesthouse where we caught a quick nap and then headed out for the half day tour. In Thailand, as well as most Asian countries we've visited, your allowed to ride in the back of pickup trucks, so you'll often see the beds of trucks having two bench seats rigged up in them lengthwise to accomodate passengers (in Ko Chang this was also their taxi service). That being said our tour group piled into two trucks and headed out to our first stop just outside the park which was a natural spring where we took a quick dip in zee pool.

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Any swim in Thailand is a welcome one cause it's just so damn hot! As you can see a beautiful clean spring... wish I had one of those in my back yard. After swimming our next stop was at a couple of caves a short distance away. The first one we got to enter.... and even meet a few of its inhabitats...

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Our guide was so good too! Very knowledgable about all our surroundings. The last picture of the centipide I think was when it was on the guides hand, but there was also a moment when I let him put it on me. He also put a spider on my face! (I have video proof). The other big draw in the cave was of course BATS!!

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The cave we were in isn't actually that filled with bats because with all the tour groups coming and going it disturbs the bats (noise and light) so most, as you will soon see, choose to make their home in another cave a few kilometres away. Tour groups aren't actually allowed to visit the other cave because literally millions of bats inhabit it. And also because disturbing them would also effect the farmers... the bat shit farmers... Mmmm guano lol. We even got to smell it in the first cave... doesn't smell like much... but tastes amazing in coffee.... so I've heard lol.

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We arrived at the second cave at around 5:30... just in time for the show. You see just at dusk is when the bats all like to leave the cave to go in search for food. We're told at different times of year that time can change slightly, but our guide hit it dead on. We quickly jumped out of the truck and within five minutes were treated to a spectacle we never thought we would see in a million years...

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Millions of bats all leaving the cave at the same time flying in formation. What a sight. They make quite a squeaky noise too hovering above. It was also interesting to see hawks giving chase and attacking the bats in hunt for their dinner.

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It truly was a remarkable sight. The bats continued to pour out from the mouth of the cave for what must have been a hour or so. Do the math: 2 million bats leaving the cave over a hour... that's 555 bats per second. Seeing them in the sky was like poetry in motion. Words can't really describe it. We did get some great video though and it does a really good job of showing the "swarm" in motion in the sky. That concluded the first day of our tour and we didn't even enter the park yet. The days events definitely kept us wondering through the night about what would be in store for us the following day.

The tour started again bright and early and we quickly made our way into the actual park. First on the wildlife checklist were Gibbons which are definitely not easy things to spot in the jungle. But our guides seemed pretty confident that they knew exactly where two families were located high up of course in the massive trees. So we donned our leech socks and headed into the jungle.

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True to their word within a few short minutes you could here the Gibbons calling to one another. I still can't believe just how hard they are to spot up the trees... but we saw em! And got some cool photos (and sore necks lol)...

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The whole day our guides trekked along with massive telescopes mounted on tripods to help us get a better view of both the Gibbons and as well the abundance of magnificent birds high above in the canopy... that last photo was actually shot by the guide with my iPhone held up to the telescope.

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It still blows my mind to think about just how good our guides were. We would literally be driving down the main road through the park doing 80km and he would suddenly stop, back up the truck and then point at the smallest bird, or an eagle high above in the trees... remarkable... and the trees were so massive! After spotting the Gibbons we continued our 8km trek through the jungle (it was exhausting... you can just imagine the humidity)...

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Again every now and then our guide would stop us all and show us something rather interesting...

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"Don't worry it won't sting you" he says as he picks it up and puts it on my shirt (I was the teachers pet of the group lol... lucky me). There were only a few in the group brave enough to try it including both Stacey and I. Way to go Team Canada!!

Of course scattered throughout the park were monkeys... I just love these little buggers... would have one over a dog any day (sorry Mom it's true)...

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Our guides gave us bananas to eat at the start of our 8km hike to give us some energy... I actually saved mine and carried it almost the whole way just in case I saw a monkey lol. Didn't get lucky though :( Next up for the day was a stop at a very famous waterfall inside the park.

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You'll see this waterfall if you watch the movie "The Beach" featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. There's a scene where he jumps off the top of it which is actually forbidden now since so many tourists have died doing just that. It was easy to see why cause I got close to take a look and the water there isn't deep at all and it's just littered with big rocks. Because of the tourist deaths we were also forbidden to swim there... which we were so looking forward to after the long arse hot jungle trek. After a quick rest we were off in search of more wildlife...

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As it was explained to us when we signed up the tour, yes there are wild elephants in Khao Yai National Park. But would we be able to spot any of those meager 250 wild elephants? Well that's a different story. Our guide told us that they maybe only can spot them a couple times a month. Mainly because of there small numbers but also due to the fact that the park is massive (over 2000 square km) which means spotting elephants in the wild can be like the proverbially needle in a haystack. It's not all luck though as most has to due with the guides ability to track them which includes looking for tracks and of course checking poop lol. We already had a very long day and to be honest weren't very hopefully of seeing any elephants (again we were told it was quite rare). Luckily we were wrong...

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Sure enough through all the foliage you could see them, a whole family of wild elephants...

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They were just trekking along through the jungle moving locations before nightfall. But then as if almost wanting to give us what we had paid for they came out on the road... hard to sum it up in a word but spectacular!!

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Such an amazing experience to see them in the wild! You feel very blessed and privileged to see such a thing. Got some great pictures and video too. The coolest thing though was that we also got to see it through another set of eyes because we had met another really nice dutch couple on our tour (Edwin and Fiona) who were in the other truck and snapped these pictures (thanks again guys!!)...

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Yep thats me hanging off the back of the truck frantically taking pictures with Stacey's arms around me holding on tight. As you can see he was coming right at us. Unreal.

Well that concludes Khao Yai National Park!! I hardly wait to see what else Thailand has in store for us! Bye for now.

Posted by ttbwarren 18:30 Archived in Thailand

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