Pak Chong: A little shocked in the beginning, as we didn’t understand how the train ticket price went from 40 Baht in our previous trip to 346 Baht with this trip from Ayutthaya to Pak Chong (as it was also the same length of time to take the train as our previous ride for 40 Baht). As it turned out it was the real deal because we had wanted the express train as many people said that the other trains ‘don’t work all the time’. As this may have happened once in the past, the next time we took the trains we avoided the express and we arrived on time just as well, so no worries which train you should take whatever floats your boat. We did realize that the route we took wasn’t that smart because we would have to travel the same route back when going up north again. So a tip: if you are traveling from Bangkok first go to Pak Chong with a bus and then to Ayutthaya with the train. Why go to Pak Chong? This is the station closest to Khao Yai National Park, home to the wild and the free.The Unesco protected National Park was something that I was waiting for this entire trip: huge cool mossy forests filled with crawling critters and prowling wild. This is an absolute must do when in this area. We even went completely off route to be able to encounter the wild hidden animals lurking in these foresty hills.
Khao Yai National Park & GreanLeaf Tours : Discover the wonders of Khao Yai National Park and the area around with enthusiastic tour guides of Grean Leaf Tours, that know where to look and how to find the creepy crawlers both in the day and at night. We did a combination of tours doing both the half day and the whole day because it wasn’t expensive total for both: 1,500 Baht. As the full day tour would start at 08:00 am we decided to also sleep in GreanLeaf Tours Guesthouses, which I would recommend when purely and only doing the hike and safari trip. Talk with other travelers and hear what other people have done or what others are going to do. We ended up talking to this really friendly Spanish couple about their vision on Catalonia and Spain, really interesting! The guesthouse is very very VERY minimalistic, but for 300 Baht what do you expect?! With cold water and old sheets and pillows on the bed (so if you have a cotton travel sheet, today is your lucky day: woohoo you get to use it!). The food at the guesthouse was yummy and simple thus perfect for a start and end of an extraordinary exploration. Bring warm clothes for the end of the day, it gets chilly plus wear good climbing shoes this steep hike up the jungle can get pretty slippery and muddy.
During the half day tour we discovered 5+ different bat types (like the horse shoe bat or the round leaf bats) in caves around the park. How do you tell the difference? Fruit bats have big eyes, small ears and long noses and the insect bats have large ears, tiny eyes and small noses.
At sunset watch 3 MILLION Wrinkle Lipped Bats fly out of their cave at night to go out hunting, they will consume each 600-1,000 mosquitos in just 1 hour. The coiling movement the bats make is due to each individual movement being reflected by the entire group, bats fly in a twirling way. The guide explained that when the bats have left the cave, people will go into it and clean out all the bat poop called guano that’s found on the floor. Why? This way the bats can stay and live there a long time because otherwise the cave will get full and the guano is useful for many things: such as making gun powder for bullets or for fireworks.
Inside the caves, crawl through small passageways to discover their resting place and also that of our 8 legged friend Mr. T.
Other creepy cave crawlers are the Long Legged Centipede, Scorpion Spider and bats of all sized and shapes hanging from the ceiling. Or like the St Andrews Cross spider found above, interesting about them is they make a flower like design in the centre of their web to lure insects in.
Outside the cave, we stopped near a natural spring water pool that was crystal blue due to the different minerals found here, but don’t drink it as locals claim it will give you kidney stones.
Alongside the small natural spring water you’ll find thousands of creepy crawlers if you look carefully.
To name just a few: The Long Horned Spider, Cave Crickets, St Andrews Cross Spider, Wolf Spider, Whip Scorpion, Centipede, Millipede, Walking Stick Insects, and more.
Even more exciting than spotting them on the ground is to pick them up and feel them tickle your hand, arm, shoulder …wait… get him off…oh no… he’s in my hair!!! Yet on the other hand this does mean you get a free head massage.
During the day tour we started at 08:00 am and headed out to enter the Khao Yai National Park with a small pick up truck to then later enter the jungle with our boots and anti leech socks (yes there are leeches in this jungle and you don’t care about the fashion statement as long as you’re safe, trust me). The tour was absolutely amazing and just to give you a tiny glimpse of what we saw here are only a few of the beauty’s found here!
…Black Giant Squirrel, Macaques, Gibbons, Elephants, Crocodiles…
This was unbelievable, while driving seriously 50 mph the tour guide suddenly stopped the car to point towards a small bush aside of the road. We couldn’t see anything until we all stepped out and stood 10 cm in front of the Whip Snake. How the hell did he spot this guy from the road?! Anyways, he told us the reason why this snake holds out his tongue is to smell if there are predators or some food nearby. This is the worlds largest squirrel: The Giant Black Squirrel Found in Thailand. Aww snuggly wuggly!
A mother Macaque with her baby, they carry them with them for around 3 weeks.
A further close up shows the beautiful markings on the mothers face, almost as if she’s wearing make up. Love the eyeshadow!
This Gibbon was really difficult to spot and get on camera as he kept on swinging from branch to branch. Being family of the apes as they have no tail, you can tell the difference between the female and male due to the longer and shorter sounds they make.
This guy was also hilarious, I really had to use the zoom button to capture this pic but our tour guide… no problem he spotted him a mile away! There are a few types of green snakes in Thailand. Spot the difference due to their colouring on the side being either yellow or white can give you a clue as to who this might be. In this case the White-Lipped Pit Viper which has a strong venom and can thus be deadly.
The Golden Orb-weaver Spider can create webs up to 1 meter big! They usually eat insects but can eat small Mouse Eared bats if they get hungry. While walking spot different types of lizards like the Indo Chinese Water Dragon which quickly disappeared before I could grab the camera, but luckily I found this beauty hiding between the leaves.
The crocodile being almost extinct, is very rare to spot but we were able to sneak a peak down by the river.
This was the most exciting! A family of elephants hurdled together in the forest. We were so lucky as the rangers hadn’t spotted them in the park for more than 10 days. My kind of animal: the Scorpion, hello october babies! Our guide was being really cool and even picked the guy up in his hands and let everyone ‘pet’ it if we wanted: I’m out!