Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Khao Yai

This weekend was certainly one of highs and lows. It seems that no matter how hard we try, traveling this country never ceases to amaze and anger me at the same time.

Using the word ka can go a long way, especially when trying to barter. In Bangkok, we needed a taxi to take us to the bus station. The man who stopped for us offered 200 baht, which Amelia was quick to counter, 150 ka. He immediately accepted with a big smile on his face! Ka is a word that is put on the end of a word or phrase to show respect. After we were on the way, the man proceeded to profess his love to Amelia while holding his heart and calling her 'young'. A handful of kissy noises later, I was crying of laughter and this became the running joke of the weekend. Being nice and respectful can go a long way no matter where you are, and possibly even find you a stalker!

Friday night and Saturday morning were both met with pure frustration. Long story short: My friends planned on running a race, and not being able to get a concrete answer for anything in this country, we had traveled to the completely wrong location. Race missed. People (my three friends) angry and upset.

Just hanging out at our hostel
We finally got our bearings and showed up at Green Leaf, where we were staying Saturday and Sunday nights. Luckily we had something to do Saturday afternoon to somewhat take our minds off of the disappointment. Why not go hang out with bugs and bats?! With a guided tour, we piled in a songtao and headed for the bat cave! Another adventure, another guide sensing something from me. This time wasn't necessarily fear, but more like disgust and.. Okay yeah, a little bit of fear. Bugs and bats? Not normally my thing. Our guide immediately learned my name and picked on me the rest of the night. Hold the white snake? Fine, snakes I'm okay with after picking up garter snakes in my garden all those years growing up. Hold a scorpion spider? Not so fine. Our guide basically held onto my hand and forced me to hold it, but I did it and am living to tell about it! Go into a cave with over 500 bats? Definitely not my thing and I was not excited for this at all, but it seems that in Thailand I give everything a chance. Luckily I did because it was SO COOL! Absolutely smelly, but incredible. We all had flashlights, or torches as they called them. Looking up with the flashlights, all you could see was the ceiling of the cave littered with bats hanging upside down. Then, we drove to another cave where we stood below and watched 2 billion bats leave the bat cave. Again, SO COOL. It didn't seem like it was ever going to end as it took about a half hour, but as they flew, it was hard not to be awestruck. Doing something like that makes me think, hm, now I don't feel like I need to duck for cover on my deck when the bats come out on a summer night.

White Snake

Scorpion Spider

Bat Cave


Millions leaving the cave
Sunday was a full day of pure jungle. With a new guide and stylish leech socks, we took on Khao Yai National Park. The guide pulled the songtao over at any sign of wildlife. These men are so good at spotting animals and they are pros at what they do. Our first stop was for a hornbill. Toucan I asked? No, hornbill. (I later asked if other birds were toucans just to joke with our guide and I don't think he thought it was very funny) Next on the tour were the gibbons. Gibbons are not birds, as I honestly have always thought. Gibbons are actually similar to a gorilla. Another animal that truly amazed me. Here I was in the middle of this park and there were gibbons swinging from tree to tree with their families in their natural habitats. A couple of times I had to remind myself that I wasn't in a zoo. It was unreal. We followed them through the jungle to get great pictures, and we could hear the gibbons calling throughout the whole day! Other animals we ran into were green vipers, deer, and macaques (aka the nasty monkeys I ran into a couple of months ago), then of course the jungle itself was thrilling to walk through. The big draw for this tour was of course.. Elephants!! You could imagine my disappointment when we drove around for two hours looking for at least one out of the 200 living freely in the park, but, no dice. As sad as it was to miss them, it was exciting 'looking' for them all day, and just knowing that these elephants are safe living in the jungle environment made up for it. So what, they didn't feel like going for a stroll down the park road. Guess I can't blame them!

Leech Socks



Green Viper

After spending a weekend amongst such wildlife, it's hard not to think about nature in general. It's amazing what happens in the world surrounding us. I would have never thought that a bat was such an interesting animal if I never experienced their exit of the cave firsthand. These animals are so lucky that they are still living in their natural habitats in Thailand, and I'm so glad I got to witness them!

On our songtao back to Green Leaf, as the two girls from California and the couple from Belgium probably thought we were insane, we were having an amazing time. We were singing some of our favorite songs from 15 years ago and trying to remember some hand games from elementary/middle school. It made me feel like I was with friends that I have had for a long time. I don't censor myself around them. I say whatever may be on my mind, whether it be smart or completely unintelligent. I eat nonstop with them. I laugh so hard with them, like with Amelia's new taxi driver boyfriend. I never really thought I would find friends as good as the ones I have at home, but I don't belive you can ever have enough great friends. I am happy and thankful to have found Amelia and Brittany in Thailand! Without them I would be completely lost!!

Brittany, Amelia, me, and Jason

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