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Day 3 - a guided tour in Khao Yai
We woke up early in the morning, ate a nice breakfast in the guest house and walked to the "Green Leaf" where a guide named Toon waited for us, and started our trip.
After entering to the park we stopped in a viewpoint (obviously it was foggy and we could barely see the view) and Toon gave us leech socks, which are worn and then sprayed with insect repellant in order to avoid a visit of the leeches from the jungle inside your pants.
wearing leech socks
The park was really big and we drove another few kilometers until the walking path. During the ride Toon sat with us in the back of the car and told us about the wild elephants in the park which lick minerals from the ground, about the few tigers still living there and about a few poor rangers that got eaten by tigers there. In this stage Sander was especially agile.
Walking in the jungle was impressive as the trees are hundreds of years old and very tall. All around us we could hear the sounds of the monkeys, and see beautiful butterflies flying - the nature there is a lot different than in Israel. We walked in paths made by the wild animals, following Toon which was searching the gibbons. Every few minutes Toon stopped and showed us a different kind spider - all the spiders were really big and colorfull, and yes... you should also avoid getting bitten by them.
Toon taught us we shouldn't eat fruits that lie on the ground since this is a sign than the monkeys also don't eat them and they are probably toxic, but after a few minutes he also gave us a fruit he found on the ground and told us we could eat it (it was very bitter). Conclusion - don't eat anything in the jungle.
Around noon we stopped for a break and we all got plastic bags with rice and a yellow "thing" inside which looked like a sponge. We hesitated, but tasting it and an explanation from Toon solved the mystery - it was sticky rice with coconut milk custard, and it turned out to be one of the tastiest dishes we ate in Thailand. (too bad that Toon didn't have a recipe)
After a walk of a few more kilometers we got to a rangers shack near a little lake where we had lunch and rested for a while. After the break we drove to a waterfall called Haeo Suwat which was filmed in the movie "The Beach". When we came near the waterfall we saw a lot of Thai people camping along the road, and we found out that other being there on saturday (which is the Thais' day off) we were "lucky" to be there on the king's birthday which only made more people be there.
The waterfall was really impressive, and we seized the opportunity and swam there.
wearing leech socks
When we were done swimming, we got back to the car and drove to a place where we had a break and waited for the darkness to come so that we could go see some wild elephants. (This is one of the last places in Thailand where you can see wild elephants in their natural environment). We didn't see any wild elephants there though, probably because of the number of people that visited there that day.
We kept looking for the elephants until it got too cold for us to sit in the back of the car, and we asked Toon to take us back to the guest house.
To sum up the day, we saw there macaque monkeys, gibbons, squirrels, spiders and giant birds called hornbill. We also saw a pile of black bear's poo, and a print of a tigers paw which made Toon very excited. We returned to the guest house frozen and starving, ate a great dinner and decided to meet in the morning and to go to the park together (where you can hire a ranger to guide you).
Day 4 - traveling in Khao Yai on our own
In the morning we looked for a way to get to the park in order to hire a ranger and walk with him. We approached the managers of the "Garden Lodge" and asked them how much a cab to the park costs. They probably figured out that we took the previous trip with their competitors, and decided to take advantage of us. They requested 800 bahts to take us to the entrance of the park (20 km) and told us that we will have to catch another cab from there to the park's headquarters (another 8 km). Being good israelis (and Dutch who took the expedited course in Israelism) we decided we're not gullibles and went to the "Green Leaf" to find a better deal. We hired there a car with its driver for the whole day (9am to 7pm) for 1000 bahts only. As a bonus we found two french tourists who paid a small fee to join us for the ride until the park.
On the way to the park we stopped the car near a fruits shop, Tomer took out his phrase book and bought us some fruits from the sellers who didn't know a word in English.
In the park's headquarters we found out that we couldn't hire a ranger because there were too many people there, and instead we got a map of the different attractions in the park. We bought leech sock in case we need them (70 bahts for a pair) and headed towards a viewpoint. Lucky us, it was foggy there, but it was still possible to see that the area was beautiful.
sitting on the edge
Then we continued to the biggest waterfall in the park - Heaw Narok. In the parking lot we saw that the place was packed with local people an Japanese tourists.
We stopped for lunch in a nice spot, where a couple of butterflies flew around us and then came to sit on our hands.
Heading to the waterfall (about 1 km) we walked by a group of anese tourists taking pictures of a small caterpillar. The waterfall itself was impressive, but we couldn't swim there. On our way back we saw the Japanese were still taking pictures of the caterpillar, so Tomer squeezed in, and took a picture of it too. In the end of the day, we stopped in the park's headquarters to download the pictures from our camera, got back to the "Garden Lodge" and said goodbye to Jetty and Sander - they decided to go to Ayutthaya and we were heading to Chiang Mai.