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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Steamy Jungle Days in Thailand

After eating our way through Singapore, it was time for the next leg of our SE Asia adventure, so on we flew to Phuket, Thailand. There, we were picked by a man and his family which included two small children who were unaware that one should sit in the front seat and not stand staring at the strange looking passengers in the back. The kids were cute, but I just wanted to put a seat belt on them!

Two and a half hours and a giant rainstorm later, we reached Khao Sok National Park. The driver took us to Art's River Lodge. Unfortunately, that wasn't where we ended up staying. Instead we were taken across the river to the Khao Sok Nature Resort for our stay in a tree house. This place was also nice, but I had my heart set on Art's. I guess it wasn't available for the days we needed it. Well after getting over my slight disappointment we were led deep into their property to our own tree house in the sky. Now, I knew we were staying in a tree house, but I guess it never occured to me how high it would be! We had to go up two flight of rickety stairs to get to it! Luckily one of the workers hefted our large bag onto his shoulders and Joe and I watched in awe as he sprinted up the stairs, unlike us who gingerly tried each step first before placing our weight on it.

The accommodations were rustic, but fun. There was a porch with two chairs on the outside facing a steaming Jurassic Park inspired landscape. Inside was a bed covered in a fortress of mosquito nets, another chair, a rod for clothes hanging and a small mirror. Past the mirror was the door to our outside toilet and simple rock shower with a sparse trickle of cold water. As it was open to the elements it was also open to the possibilities of scorpions, frogs and snakes which made using the bathroom quite an adventure and made you debate internally at three in the morning whether you really needed to go or not. In addition to the possibility of creepy crawlies in the bathroom, getting out of the mosquito netted bed was an obstacle course unto itself as it had to be un-tucked and tucked quickly to keep the mossies out, and I had many laughs at Joe diving in and out of the bed with Olympic worthy gymnastic moves.

Meals were taken outside in the main lodge that was open on the sides but covered to protect from rain. Our first night the power was out for quite awhile and we share a meal by electric candles with small lizards crawling up the posts beside us and bats swooping in and out over our heads.

The day after our arrival we left for what can only be described as a crazy death march through the jungle. We'll chalk it up to "it sounded like a good idea at the time." Of course "the time"we were considering it, we were in cool, breezy Monterey and not melting in the hot steamy confines of the jungle. We met our guide Dom and hiked a grueling 6 kilometers through slippery trails in the rainforest to a "waterfall." I use the term waterfall loosely as we were expecting a tall gushing flow of water with a pristine pool glittering in the sun inviting us to swim. Unfortunately, the "waterfall"was a river with some rapids that formed some still pools underneath....not a waterfall in the traditional sense. The cold water still felt good after the hike...too bad we had another six kilometers to get back!

Throughout the hike we did encounter some cheeky monkeys (macaques) and were lucky enough to spot a civet cat. However, we didn't learn that much or see a lot of life. Our guide wasn't very animated and I think it was due in part to a language barrier. He was very nice and spoke some English, but was a little hard to understand and gave up information sparingly. We were hoping to see some elephants but luck was not with us that day. Good thing we get an up close and personal encounter in a week!

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