We spent a couple of days this finally visiting Kao Sok National Park in southern Thailand. Alexander has been dreaming about going there for a really long time, so it was with great excitement that we left our apartment about a week ago and headed for the airport. We were flying to Surat Thani where we would meet up with his parents and drive ourselves over to the park.

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Early afternoon we arrived at Art’s Riverview Guesthouse, our accommodation for the next two nights. We stayed in simple, yet attractive bungalows, set on the banks of a meandering pale turquoise stream, surrounded by jungle growth and the constant humming and twittering of insects, birds and frogs.

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We decided to do an elephant trek on our first afternoon. I usually shy away from any form of rides on the backs of animals, so this was a first for me. All in all it was kind of fun, although I was really nervous at first. The ride was scenic and pleasant, swaying from side to side on the back of a giant cow through rubber plantations, cool streams and towering jungle palms and tree. We stopped for a few minutes at a small waterfall before returning back to there camp.

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After dinner we went on a jungle night-hike in the park. Trudging through the mud and darkness we did manage to see some mouse deer grazing in the undergrowth and two freaked-out bushy-tailed porcupines running ahead of us on the path.

We spent our second day at Kao Sok mostly relaxing around the quiet town on the park’s edge. The stream proved the perfect spot to cool off and unwind. We discovered a small restaurant serving sweet mocha espressos and tiramisu. Late in the afternoon we went for a short stroll in the park where we spotted a variety of strange frogs and lizards, and a snake.

Wednesday morning we left for Chiao Lan Reservoir. It’s a spectacular man-made body of water shaped by massive karst cliffs and hills. The lake has no distinct shape and the moment the main pier was out of sight we felt completely lost amongst the jungle clad cliffs and islands.

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We came for the experience of sleeping in raft housing on the lake and some peace and quiet, not expecting to really see anything, considering the dense foliage and shyness of jungle animals. So we were pleasantly surprised to spot our first langurs jumping between trees on the way to our camp.

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Our accommodations were very basic, but the surroundings- the cliffs, the refreshing water, gibbons calling in the distance, otters splashing some distance from us in the water- made up for lack of anything else. I could easily have stayed longer.

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We spent our time kayaking around the lake and taking more safaris on our long-tail boat. Our early morning safari on Thursday yielded fantastic otter, eagle, langur and gibbon sightings. I felt overwhelmed by happiness when we saw the gibbons tumbling through the trees and dangling upside down from a branch by one leg.

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After breakfast, Alexander and I took a last kayak trip on the lake and had even better sightings. Three troops of langurs very close to the water’s edge, a female gibbons and her young munching on bamboo leaves and 10 hornbills flying between the tallest trees.

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After lunch and another hike through the jungle we took our long-tail back to the pier. I was kind of sad too leave, our time in Khao Sok has come to an end, and it did not disappoint. In fact, I would say it was one of the highlights of our time in Thailand and my life. We’re of course hoping to return soon.