A Travellerspoint blog

Down South

Koh Sok National Park

overcast 30 °C

Hey everybody, we've moved down south with the trip, 12hour train ride from Bangkok to Surat thani, and a 2hour air conditioned bus ride to our resort in Koh Sok ANtional park. The four adjacent parks here form one of the biggest areas of protected wild life in S.E. Asia and it's very beautiful. We arrived yesterday morning, swam in the river and just chilled, almost everyone else went on inner tubes down the river, saw a few snakes and fish and lizards (and a monkey temmple) while i opted to go off on my own for a while and doa trek, it was great, saw some pretty neat stuff, got bitten by one leech and took quite a few photos.
In the evening most of us took a night trek to spot wildlife as a large proportion only comes out a night. we saw bats (which were flying around our resort like dog fighters) frogs, bugs, a flying lizard, an owl, a beautiful white snake (only small) some HUGE spiders with Huge webs, some mouse deer, and a Macaque (type of monkey)
Today we did some more trekking, we stopped and swam at a small set of waterfalls, dived off some rocks, and generally had a good time, after that the british girls who joined us in bangkok were going to go elephant riding so they turned around along with some others, while robin, kate, jyri (yuri), nicole and I went further up stream to find a waterfall, the route wasn't marked very well and at one point we were about to settle with seeing a less impressive waterfall, but I scouted ahead and the sign said we were only a kilometer off, so we soldiered on, with nicole as the exception who needed a sleep. after some more trekking we reached the river again, checked the map and discovered that we needed to crosss this big river, walk up a triutrary and then get to the waterfall, so we put all the cameras and valuables and some food into my bag, and tied that to the pulley system that was setup to take bags across the river, so we swam across, pulled my bag across ad headed up the river. It was getting close to that point where we would have to turn back, so after some deliberation we decided that if we couldn't hear/see the waterfall in 5minutes we'd turn back, so we trudge on trying not to slip taking everyone's cameras in with me. about 200m laterrobin can hear the falls, we catch up and can hear them too, so it's decided now we have to dee the falls and we march on, climbing up the hills where the river is too deep to walk in, jumping from rock to rock and eventually we see it, a magnificent waterfallzig-zagging down the rocks, it was very beautiful. we all took photos, jyri, kate and I swam and robin sun-tanned. I decided I wanted to get behind the waterfall which i felt sure had a open space behind it, got pounded and sent down steam the first try, and the second on the third and what i'd decided would be my last try I mangaed to find some grips on the rocks. The water was pounding white around my head so thick that I couldn't see anything other than the white blur or hear anything but the low roar. Using all four limbs carefully i managed to pull myself, crouching through the falls, I was right there was a space behind it that the water relented and I could stand up. after giving a few victory cries i headed back, this time standing, with my back against the wall bracing myself withmy legs, Kate took a pic of me like this and we headed back. so it was a really great experiece.
On the way back i almost lost the cameras to the water when I was walking with the water up to my chest and the bag above my head all of a sudden the rock i was walking on went into a 45degree angle and i had to tread water to the side and push the bag onto a ledge, alas my shoes were soaked.

Well we've had a great time, Ps i forgot to mention that on the nite trek i kinda fell into a spike covered tree and had a heap of spikes break off in my left hand and arm, luckily Claire is doing her 1st year of med school in cardiff next year and was a medic in the army for a while so she's been taking care of me, still some spikes to come out ho, i'm good, no infection, just a bit sore and stiff.

PPS Photos will come in a couple of days I got three spools developed and uploading a few shouldn't be too hard but it will be easier in Koh Samui.

Take care,
Mike

Posted by MikeTrev 04:17 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

The Trek Continued

Jungle monkey boy

sunny 34 °C

Well the trekking was great, after the waterfall, we had lunch (i think i'm repeating myself, oh well sorry for you) anyway eventually we actually started walking, uphill, uphill and more uphill. But it was good. Robin was a bit behind me and had a snake chase a frog across the path unfortunately he was a bit too slow to get a pic.
Yao and his friend faung?? were joined by Anan and Pan, two more guides, who knew the new trail we were taking and could help carry more gear. (by the way we were taking a new trail because floods the previous week had taken out one or two important bridges) so eventually after the long uphills and Robin seeing the snake we had a break, during this break pan who was leading the ppl in the front made me a bamboo cup, and some more walking sticks for people. After the break and after a few group photos we started on the downhill (btw i used up my last film on the waterfall so i'll get some pics of the trek from other people) the downhill was good Pan showed us some interesting stuff and yao also pointed some things out, we tried some jungle berries, which are very sour but make your next mouthful of water taste divine, we also tried some jungle chestnuts. we were shown edible mushrooms and bamboo bugs, had some more breaks on at the end of uphills, all very fun. eventually after lots of slipping and sliding on the moist clay soil we reached Karen village, the biggest tribe of the hill tribes (not the biggest village as a tribe is made of many villages) we bathed in the river, i amused some of the kids for a while but they couldn't stay long as it was beginning to get dark, then some of us had a shower after the swim, then came dinner time, can't remember what it was but it was good, then we had some card games and magic tricks, learnt one of the tricks and helped keep the guise up when Geoff a very analytical guy started to see through it. The sleep was ok, one or two things woke me up during the night but hey it was all good in the end. the next day started with breakfast, boiled eggs, toast and pineapple aswell as good tea and coffee, then more trekking. the second day was not nearly as hilly as the first but longer, we stopped for a while in a second karen village to visit a school, they were watching their one hour of tv a day and so rotated to come and get lollies/sweets from some people in the group who had bought for them. the next part of the trek went on for quite a while, mostly flat but not as interesting as the fisrt day but still really beautiful, we were walking along a trade route between the karen village and our next stop over. eventually we reached the big river that the village was on, I was quite hopeful it was near which it was but the shortish distance was quite a challenge, seeing as it was right next ti the river (like on a small cliff) and very very up and down and very slippery with some parts you had to jump across a small gap. When we reahed the village they were busy reconstructing from the damage wrougth by the flood, to our disay we had a huge walk uphill to our particular hut (Sherry apparently refused and was mocked a bit by the locals until she went up) I got changeda nd went for a swim, only to be sorely dissapointed as the riverbed was FULL of rocks and moving really fast, not any fun for swimming, we ended up just lying about for the most part. After my swim i went to go help the villagers with reconstruction but there really was nothing for me to do so i headed up the hill to our hut, but my bag away, got changed and had a Thai massage. We had quite a few of the village women waiting to give massages to weary trekkers and i took up the offer for 200 baht (about 6 dollars) Oh my word that was the best most insanely good massage ever, with some of my ligaments the endorphins rushing through me must have been bumper to bumper. After a while we had a pre-dinner snack, tofu and flour chips with a sweet chilli sauce, those were REALLY good, then dinner was awesome, but i had a bit of sunstroke and dehydration so Kate gave me some re-hydration powder which took care of that, I helped yao confuse everyone with 'black magic' (not actual magic just the trick) theni hit the sack. nicole came and woke me up to get me under the mosquito net properly because i hadn't bothered with it as the others were still up. theni slept quite welluntil dawn whereuponi was woken by two evil roosters rigthunder where we were sleeping, (houses were on stilts) so I go up and chased them away and went back to bed, and didn't sleep that well but slept some more. then it was up and packing after breakfast, getting ready for bamboo rafting.
Bamboo Rafting was GREAT, our rafts were about 5m long and 1m wide, made completely of bamboo from the raft itself to the strips of bamboo used to tie it together. We would steer it by punting with bamboo poles. on our raft we had yao and faung?? doing most of the steering with Robin and I helping out. We had our first rapid after the other boat crashed due to under turning and hit a bigish rock head on, but no injuries nad the raft was fine, so they pulled over and most of the ppl got out and walked around, robin and I stayed on the raft to help get us throught the rapid (yao and Faung could probably have managed but could see we wanted the adrenilane rush and let us 'help' man was that cool or what.
The next rapids were great too everyone was on the raft, all the non-punters were sitting down and because of the turbulance and speed the raft got swamped at one point and some ppl almost got washed off, it was soo cool, we all wanted to do that one again, at one point we were about 15cm from a huge dip in the river which would have nailed us badly.
The next rapid was the BIG insane one, navigating it in a kayak would have been quite easy but in a 5m long raft, not so easy. especiallly when the bamboo pole you are using isn't purchasing on anything, so since we only had on person athe back keeping us from rocks we slammed in the wrong side of one, the front of the raft with all our bags rode up the rock, while the back got dragged underwater and hooked into the ground. no the raft is almost perpendicular to the flow of water and the bamboo poles are humming like a v8 in idle because of the water flowing in between them the other team made it through ok and stopped to help us, we unloaded all the bags (once we swam ashore) and started trying to get the raft free, eventuall just after i climbed over it and others pushed it disloged, luckily some one maaged to get aboard with a pole for punting and pushed it ashore, we loaded up, repaired and carried on. after rafting we had lunch and climbed into our transport, a songathauew or something like that, basically a converted ute/bakkie with a roof over the back and seats along the two sides, quite fun to travel in. anyway after a long, bumpy ride we get back to our hotel and check in, then we had some free time and went out for dinner, the night market and partying which was great, yao certainly knows some good spots. so we got back late, had a day of either thai cooking or a bike tour (i opted for the latter whichw as way cheaper) and got very stressed and angry because we arrived back at the hotel like 3 min before we had to be there. then a 14hour train ride to bangkok. This morning we headed out to the floating market which the part we saw wasn't realy floating and was pretty much the worst goods market we'd seen, so we weren't very satisfied but hey it was only 250bhat each so not a big loss, and we all had a nap in the car there. ok my fingers are starting to and the spelling and punctuation mistakes must be rife, so cheers for now, Mike

Posted by MikeTrev 00:14 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

The Trek

Jungle and hill tribes

overcast 28 °C

On the 21st we started a 3 day trek through the jungle near chang-mai to see some of the hill tribes and do some fun stuff.
We started in the morning and left the hotel for the 'local' market which was about an hour and a half away, so ge got the at about 12 probably, shopped around, bought some gifts for the hill tribes, some of us bought fruit and other supplies, then we headed into the mountains to stop at a waterfall, man it was so beautiful about 20-30m high and soooo powerful, so quite a few of us went swiming and got pounded by hte falls, it was incredible to feel so much power.
Then some more driving to the spot where we would have lunch, fried rice, then a bit more driving and we started trekking. we trekked for two more days and i'll fill the rest in tomorrow, sorry i've got to go to dinner now. So i'm till safe and well.
Mike

Posted by MikeTrev 04:52 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Day 4

The Group

semi-overcast 31 °C

So yesterday, after Michael (the german) and I went looking for stuff for his camera we came back to our hotel (not so great, pretty old but liveable) and waited for the others a bit, (we met our group leader, Yao, and he said to come back in an hours time) And so we met some more people from our group, there are 11 people in total plus Yao is 12 .
Yao - Thai Guide, grew up in the jungle in the north, very nice friendly on to it guy
Robby- American Student doing the same thing as me, taking a year off in between college and grad school. Robby played rugby in the states and has worked in Aussie i think and visited NZ
Geoff- British guy working at the bbc, compiling the different clips they need to air all their programmning.
Yuri - Finnish PC systems analyst (or something along those lines)
Hermina?? - Ex NZ living in England doing the same thing as me, she is also going to study English and Classics next year (crazy ay?)
Michael- German is going to study commerce net year
A German chick whose name I haven't caught yet
Sherry and Isaac - American couple finished Grad school
Kate - Australian working for the NSW gov with something to do with Bio/science
Nicole/Nikky - Australian has been travelling most of this yeat i think

So that's the group, i think we are goingto have a lot of fun together, btw only 7 of the 11 are doing the whole 18 days, the rest have only booked a smaller trip that does the same first part.
We might get joined by another smaller group for the second part aswell. We lso might get a different guide for the second half.

So last night after a bit of a briefing, we went out for dinner and into the really crzy touristy part of town( apparently 'the bech' begins there). the restaurant was really nice, i had crab in a yellow curry which was really nice, i also had a freshly pulp watermelon drink which was really yum (only 3NZD )

after that we went to an irish bar of all places and the beer was quite cheap and the cocktails a little bit cheaper than in NZ but not by much, I didn't drink but we all had a really good time dancing. they had two very good live bands, lots of the Chillis and heaps of those songs that everyone loves. so yeah all good.

This morning the plan was to go and see the grand palace, the reclining Bhuddah and take a canal tour, I started getting ready oly to find to my horror that my camera was missing I seached everywhere and got increasignly frustrated, (i' sue sue can still remember my 'angry trying to find something' act, not a happy place, anyway the group had to go and I had to pack (also I forgot about the 12pm checkout so i'd gone and washed clothes and hung them out to dry thinking i could take them down at 4pm an hour before we left, so i stayed to look for my camera and pack. I went everywhere looking for it, the restaurant, the bar, a stall Michael was looking at jeans in, eventually almost given up all hope i checked the internet cafe it went to yesterday and voila it was there waiting for me, so hopefully that means i won't loose it again.

I think i'll try catch a canal tour before getting back to the hotel at four (1ohour before our departure)

ok you all take care, hope your eyes are ok.

Mike

Posted by MikeTrev 22:37 Archived in Thailand Tagged round_the_world Comments (3)

Day 3

PM

semi-overcast 28 °C

Well I bought some boardshorts today, i wanted to buy these Thai style ones but i wasn't sure if i was tie-ing (aaah help me phillip of spelling) them up right as they are REALLY huge around the waist and you tie them to suit you so they are like one size fits all (americans included). In the end I just bought some standard nonames, well actually i lie, they are "hacker active" boardshorts hahaha, spose i'm a hacker now.

I also spent a LOT of ime looking for a surf shop, without sucsess, lots of "this way" "that way" "this way ten minute" "ahh what is suf" mmmm i think i'll have better luck at the coast?

I forgot to say yesterday that I went to go see some sights, This local told me that I should see "gloden buddah/bhudda?" and "black bhudda" and some other stuff because it was a special holiday, and it was free. so he found me a government tuk-tuk (much cheaper because of government funding for tourism) so i went to see the golden bhudda, which was quite impressive, 32m high 11m wide and covered from toenails to topknot in gold leaf, it is HUUUGE (oh it's also called the standing bhudda (most are sitting or lying down apparently) I also went to see the black bhudda but the temple it is in is under rennovation, but I did get shown a green bhudda, situated in a prayer room which was carver out of sodild emerald and slighty smaller than a real person, sitting cross-legged with a 20c high ruby bhudda in front of that.

By then i had the mean headache so i skipped the rest and went home.

Ok

hope you weren't too bored by the read

Posted by MikeTrev 03:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

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