A Travellerspoint blog

December 2011

It's your own fault that snake bit you, Shawn.

We went on the all day tour of Khao Yai hoping to see some wild elephants (nope, but lots of poop so they were definitely in the area) or some other cool wildlife (yep, the gibbons swinging from the trees were neat). We were in the back of a pickup with five other people and the guide stopped the truck and jumped out to grab a snake from a tree. The guide was proving himself to be an amazing wildlife spotter because that snake was really hidden. The snake was a calm and docile creature while everyone held it and took pictures, until it got to Shawn who thought he should distract it with quick, jerky hand movements on both sides of its head. It was really no surprise when it struck at his leg. Dope. Anyway, I guess it was one of the few non-venomous snakes of Thailand because the guide just laughed.

While taking a break from hiking (and checking our legs for leeches), the guide pointed out a very large tree that was "interesting to climb" because you could go down inside the twisting trunk. It was huge! Shawn started toward it, but wisely decided not to climb it. Then a much younger, very physically fit German guy immediately jumped at the challenge to climb this tree after Shawn walked down. A bit of a sting to Shawn's ego I think. I told him, "Of course I know you CAN do it, that's why you don't NEED to do it." The German guy's young, very fit girlfriend bounced up to climb it next to show how exciting and adventurous she is. Shawn pointed out, "That was you 20 years ago." Oh well, getting old....
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Posted by Pelham Family 15:29 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

To the Bat Cave!

We arrived by train in the town Pak Chong with no idea of where to stay, but we came here because it is the closest town to the Khao Yai National Park and we just haven't had our fill of waterfalls, jungle trails, and caves yet. After looking up and down the street a few times we were about to start walking when a taxi driver (and by taxi I mean pickup truck with benches in the back) handed us a brochure for the Greenleaf Guesthouse, which offered tours of the park. Perfect, take us there! It's been a while since we've had hot water anyway, so the simple little room for about $10 a night was fine. They offered us an evening trip to watch TWO-MILLION bats come flying out of a cave. Perfect, take us there! First we went swimming in a natural spring, then we went to explore inside a cave (not as cool as the caves we have already explored, but ok), then we went to the base of a mountain where we could see a cave opening about half way up. At 5:30 (just like the guide had said, so the bats are very punctual) a dark cloud of bats came swirling out of the mouth of the cave. It was amazing! They all stayed together in a spiraling swarm, like a river stretching as far as you could see. They kept coming for over 30 minutes. I would say 2 million was a pretty fair estimate.
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Posted by Pelham Family 03:11 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Baby Elephant Day!

We saw people riding on elephants around the ruins yesterday, so that was the plan for today. We set off this morning in search of the elephant ride, but when we got there they were bringing over a couple of babies. That was the end of Baylie being interested in a ride! As soon as she saw that you could buy food to feed the babies and she could just stand there "communicating" with them that was good enough for her.
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Posted by Pelham Family 21:40 Archived in Thailand Comments (4)

Unexpected Bangkok

We have seen crazy chaotic traffic in big cities. We have choked on the polution of major cities in several countries. We have been intimidated by the impenetrable crowds and general feeling of disorganized frenzy. But NOT in Bangkok. This place is fantastic. It's clean, organized, and polite in every way. It's huge and crowded of course, but it is just a delightful city. I'm looking forward to going back in a few weeks and spending several more days there before we leave Thailand. We left today, deciding against the train since that was unsuccessful. We negotiated with a taxi driver to drive us to Ayutthaya for about $35. Very reasonable I thought. We arrived in Ayutthaya and found a great room on a street filled with budget guest houses. We walked around some of the ruins today shocked that just a few short weeks ago this whole place was devasted by the flooding. It is incredible to see the water marks on buildings and realize the recovery they have made here in such a short time. We saw some more of the flood effects in Bangkok on our drive out today as well. There are still streets that are impassable.

Tonight we went out on the street with THOUSANDS of people celebrating the King's birthday - a major holiday here, also called "Father's Day". Fireworks, performances, just a great atmosphere of celebration. Loving it!
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Posted by Pelham Family 05:36 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Wait!...Where is this train going??

The long story of our long travel day

We got up at 4:45 this morning to make an early train to Bangkok. We made it through the dark streets of Hua Hin to the train station and joined the crowd waiting for the 6:05 train. At the correct time a train pulled in. We got on quickly, because we are quite experienced with how disorganized and chaotic it can be boarding trains in every country we have been in. We man-handled our bags down the crowded aisle, struggled to heave them into the overhead rack, and noticed there were people asleep in "our" seats...hmmm. I then noticed that the crowd of people we had been waiting with did not seem to be boarding this train...hmmm. I leaned out the window and showed my ticket to a very official-looking uniformed man. His response was a little frantic, "Oh no! Next train, next train!" I could hear the rumble of the engine starting. I grabbed my bag, maybe knocking someone out as I jerked it out of the overhead rack, saw that Shawn was helping Baylie, and raced to jump out the door. We all made it off in a pile of luggage, I'm sure to the amusement of everyone still waiting patiently for the next train.

We finally made it to Bangkok and were happily surprised that there was a train heading to Ayutthaya in one hour. What luck! I bought tickets, we grabbed a quick snack, and headed for the platform. The train did not come. It was over an hour late. When it finally got going it never even made it out of the city. The train just stopped. We waited, and waited, and waited. No air conditioning, but Shawn finally got fed up with the fans that weren't working and he took matters into his own hands and went to work on the circuit breakers. He seemed a little upset that once he got the fans going there wasn't a round of applause. After over an hour there was an announcement in Thai that did not sound promising. A very nice fellow passenger came over to explain to us that the army would send trucks to transport us on ahead if we wanted, but the train was basically stuck due to a problem related to flooding and sandbags and some sort of "negotiation" going on up ahead. There may have been a little bit lost in translation, but we decided to bail on our plan. We grabbed our bags and headed for the street in search of a taxi. So now we are "accidental tourists" in Bangkok for a couple of days when we really only meant to pass right through.

Posted by Pelham Family 05:24 Archived in Thailand Comments (5)

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