© 2011 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. Our Khao Sok Tour Guide in Thailand

Thailand – Khao Sok – 17th-19th March

The train down to Surat Thani left at 7.30pm and we got in at around 7.30am the next day. There were a load of people making their way down for the full moon party which was going off at the weekend. We were trying to avoid the masses and opted instead to head to somewhere Helen has never visited before whilst travelling through Thailand. Our destination was Khoa Sok National Park and so when we exited the train we headed straight to a restaurant area where we could buy bus and taxi services to any destination in the south. We managed to book onto a mini-van operator who would pick us up at 10.30am, so we sat in a restaurant along with a few other backpackers and enjoyed a fruit shake whilst we waited.

The pick up was early to our surprise and it took around an hour and a half to reach the entrance to Khao Sok. We didn’t have any accommodation booked but as soon as we got there taxi drivers were ready waiting with their pick up trucks to take us to a place to stay. We wanted to go to one place recommended called Art’s River View Lodge in the Lonely Planet which was advertised as being around 300 Baht as their cheapest option but when we got there we were informed that the cheapest room was 600 Baht, so we soon moved on and luckily our taxi driver hung around so that he could earn his commission for wherever we would end up. There was a great place further back down the lane towards the main road called Nungs House that we had spotted on our way past.

They had a great sized bungalow with en-suite and hot water which we bargained at for 2 nights for 500 Baht. The manager there is really friendly and hospitable. We looked around for a few tour options for the next day and then set off to explore the national park for a few hours. When we set off it was very hot and sunny, within 2 hours the weather changed and a monsoon came with it. We’d managed to walk a good distance and stop by at some of the waterfalls in the area (although they didn’t really impress us). It was a good walk but we could tell the weather was going to worsen so we started making tracks back and in doing so got caught in a monstrous downpour which brought to the surface many leaches who decided to attach themselves onto us…not a pleasant experience but getting absolutely drenched was fun!

When we got back we opted to book the one day lake and cave tour through our guesthouse as-well as our travel arrangements to Koh Pha-Ngan. The one day tour cost us 1500 Baht each including lunch, we managed to find a few cheaper alternatives but only by 100 Baht or so and we were happy with the service at the guesthouse so decided to go with them. The joint bus and boat tickets to Koh Pha-Ngan were 600 Baht each.

The following day we woke up early to be picked up at 8.30am for the tour. There were 7 of us in total along with another cheeky chappy Thai tour guide and the drivers. It took around an hour and a half to get to Cheow Lan Lake, an enormous man made lake built for hydro-electricity. As we arrived at the pier there was a long-tail boat waiting to take us on an hour long boat trip to the Tham Nam Thalu cave. The scenery around in and around the lake is stunning, we were reminded once more of the karst peaks we’ve seen time and again in China, Vietnam and Laos but we thought this was the most beautiful of the karst areas we’d yet visited. They jutt out of the water some 950m, with perhaps 100-300m depth below, we just couldn’t believe that the lake was man-made and had taken nearly 20 years to fill.

Along the way we stopped to view monkeys swinging in the trees and a monitor lizard who was unhappily disturbed from its roost by our tour guide who just couldn’t resist getting the creature on public show for us. Be warned, Thai tour guides and those from other South-East Asian countries do like to show off and disturb creatures from their natural habitat to show them off to tourists, but it’s not what we want to see!! Still they’ll do it all the same, like boys playing with ants!

On the south-west shoreline there is a base where many tourists and backpackers stay for the night in bamboo style bungalows over the waters edge. There are also a few restaurants there and we were able to use kayaks as part of our tour cost, we enjoyed a great lunch there too. After a short trip on the kayaks and a very filling lunch we took the boat a little further down the shore-line and got off to start a 2 hour walk through the jungle to the cave. We crossed through big jungle forest trees and leaves, butterfly’s drinking from the water-logged paths and more wildlife which prompted our tour guide to once again act his child-like ways by disturbing them and trying to grab them for us to photograph. We saw massive spiders, lizards, beetles, birds and so on, before eventually arriving at the cave entrance. We didn’t really know what to expect but the cave is massive! We packed away our cameras and valuables into dry-packs and started trekking through the cave. We were in the cave for over an hour making our way from one side to the other, passing by hundreds of bats, more huge spiders, toads, frogs and streams. There were other tourists in there too but most of the time our group was alone, and at one stage we all stripped down to our swim gear and got ready to swim through the deeper streams. Our hero tour guide took all of our dry-packs over his shoulders and didn’t once get them wet, whilst he directed our steps along rocks and through small rivers that he has guided people through time and again. At one point we were head deep in water as we climbed down a waterfall and into a pool, it was scary and exciting all at once. We couldn’t believe the scale and depth of the cave and with all of the wildlife, limestone, rock formations and water passing through, we have to say it was an amazing experience.

As we exited the cave we had a further half hour or so walk back to the boat which was then followed by a tasty snack of fresh fruit and banana rice balls – yum! With another one hour boat journey back we eventually arrived at our accommodation after 8pm, it was a very long day indeed but we really enjoyed it and thought our tour guide was great too. We enjoyed food with our fellow tour buddies and then made our way back to prepare for another departure the next morning.

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0 & Olympus PEN, 17mm f2.8 & 100mm f2.8, processed in Lightroom 3)

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  1. Posted 19 Apr ’11 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    I am in love with this set. The colors are all so warm and inviting. Love the diptych.

  2. Posted 13 Sep ’11 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Thailand? Wow.

    I had a good time reading through your post detailing your adventures in the South-East Asian countries. While Thailand has really magnificent scenic spots, I do recommend you check out Philippines. They have unspoilt beaches and islands as well. Just don’t go to Boracay, or you’ll be swarmed with tourists ;)

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