Tuesday 29 November 2011

Khao Yai National Park (And some sunflowers)

After Lopburi I headed towards the sunflower fields I was told about. The guesthouse owner gave me detailed directions on where to go so I followed them. Mostly. Problem was there were more fields marked on the map closer to Lopburi, and I ignored the fact that he said "You'll go right past them!" and interpreted this as "It's about 5km off the road". I did some searching where I thought the map told me to go but just ended up on some back roads and didn't see anything. Then I joined the main road again and finally saw a sign that said the sunflower fields were 20km away.

There's only a couple along the highway, the closest to Lopburi seemed to have the tallest sunflowers, but they were still pretty short. It cost me 5 baht to get in and take photos but I think the photos worked out ok:


Close sunflower!

A bee!

Mmm polarised. 

I think the top one was filled with big seeds. I'm not sure how these flowers work.
Next I headed to a guesthouse near Khao Yai national park that also ran tours. I was a bit unsure about taking the tour because it was 1300baht for a day, but I decided to do it because then I wouldn't have to ride. But it turns out, the tour was excellent and I would never have seen all the animals we did if I went by myself. The guide was quiet, and we didn't really know what was happening until we got to each spot.
The lookout on the road in. Lots of elephant poos on the road here.

These guys are everywhere.

Some deer, at the park headquarters
After the drive in it was time to go trekking through the forests. We had on leech socks too, just in case. After we'd wandered in for about a minute, the guide stopped, heard something and then said "This way!" and then walked off the main trail. We followed along, and eventually learnt we were chasing a family of gibbons. We saw a few hornbills and giant squirrels along the way, but no gibbons just yet. Then we started heading back towards the main trail and again, he heard something and we were off to find the gibbons again.

And we found them! Too high up for my lens though, and against the bright background.
They were easier to find though because they were very noisy, the baby one was yelling "wooooooow" or something like a gibbon sounds. They were sitting around above us for a while, one almost overhead (I know this because his poo landed just beside me). After a while we set off again to track down more wildlife.


Very hairy Pat Mustard style hairy Caterpillar.

Strangler fig!

Some... Vine.


Worm! with part of a shoe for size comparison.
We saw many giant squirrels, many hornbills, more other birds, spiders, and those things in photos! But for the most part the guide looked like he was gettting us lost, but we did get out, eventually.

Then it was back on the road to look at waterfalls. On the way he suddenly stop and pointed out some more gibbons by the road.

Black gibbon!

Haeo Suwat Falls. They were used in the movie "The Beach"

Closeup of the rainbow mist.

Some of the water downstream from the falls.

Holding up rocks, Thai style.
 After Haeo Suwat falls we headed to Haew Narok. But on the way we saw lots of people stopped on the road, and then we saw this!

There were some guys on motorbikes that started running away of course. But the elephant turned off the road soon after that photo. We waited around a bit longer to see if the elephant would come back out, and apparently there was another one people had seen a bit earlier too.

After a while we went to the falls.

Along the walkway to the falls.


The stairs down. Very steep. Lots of them. Painful.

The falls! These are the highest in the park.
Then we headed back out on the road to do some more elephant spotting. And then we saw this:

 We followed it up the road for a little bit, it kept wandering slowly left to right, making sure we were still following. Then finally it went to eat some leaves and we went around.

Closer photo!
After some more spotting it was actually time to go back.

So yes, I can recommend the full day tour from Greenleaf. The guide certainly knows where to find the animals. It was only 1300baht, which included the 400baht entry fee (there was a 30baht fee for a motorcycle too). The rooms they have are very basic though. Cold water only, but with a flushing toilet, and there's a fan in the room but it's not that hot there. The food in their restaurant was good and cheap too!

And now I'm in Nang Rong, tomorrow I'll be touring some of the ruins nearby and then I'll plan my way out of here to Laos. 

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