Khao Sok National Park – a place for adventure

Khao Sok National Park – a place for adventure

 

Vorbisem cu o zi înainte cu un ghid local să ne arate Khao Sok. Știam că există varianta să iei un ghid direct de la intrarea în parc, dar pentru noi a fost mai ușor așa. Nu a trebuit să mai închiriem un mijloc de transport care să ne ducă vreme de câteva ore până la destinație. Timpul nu era de partea noastră, așa că varianta să-i batem singuri potecile nu era o opțiune. Khao Sok e până la urmă o rezervație naturală, cu porțiuni de junglă virgină.

Sunet de valuri, câteva picături de ploaie care lovesc bungaloul, asta mi-a fost alarma de dimineață. Nu am știut inițial unde sunt. L-am văzut pe Artem dormind relaxat lângă mine, dar nu eram în apartamentul din Moscova. Aici se aud valuri și nu claxoane, aici miroase a mare si nu a poluare, aici îmi dau seama că visul mi-a devenit realitate. Eram în Thailanda și azi urma să descopăr parte din ea.

EN: The sounds of waves, some rain drops falling on the bungalows roof, this was my morning alarm. Initially, I didn’t know where I am. I saw Artem near me, but this was not our Moscow apartment. Here you hear waves and not honks, here it smells like sea and not of pollution, here I realize that my dream came true. I was in Thailand, and today I was to discover part of it.

We talked a day before with one of the local guides to show us, Khao Sok. We knew that we had the option to hire a guide directly at the entrance to the park, but for us, it was easier this way. No need to rent transportation to take us for a few hours to the destination. Time was not on our side, it was not an option to walk its trails by ourselves. Khao Sok is after all a natural reservation, with dense virgin jungle. 

Khao Sok

Plec într-o aventură! Nu era Frodo, eram eu înainte de ieși pe ușă. Incredibil cum fără cafea la bord eram capabilă de atât entuziasm, dar asta nu înseamnă că nu am visat la ea toată ziua. Se pare că până la urmă sunt dependentă. Fiecare cu viciile lui.

Eu eram cu aventura și Artem era cu “Ce mașină comfortabilă, pot să dorm tot drumul”. Nu m-a uimit nici de data asta, a adormit în mai puțin de cinci minute. Îl mai trezeam eu din când în când cu “Uite ce frumos se vede satul ăla! Uite ce peisaj!”. Deschidea ochii preț de câteva secunde și apoi începea să sforăie din nou. A reușit el să doarmă în avion, cu turbulențe de am crezut că vor rupe avionul în două, când până și una din stewardese țipa în spate. L-am trezit până la urmă când am ajuns la barajul Ratchaprabha. Când au construit barajul, s-a format lacul Chiaw Lan care acum se întinde pe mai bine de 185 de km pătrați.

Chiaw Lan ni s-a arătat dimineața cu aburi ridicându-se din pădurile din jur. Bărcile duceau turiștii la bungalourile plutitoare din jur. Acolo se poate dormi peste noapte. Și noi stăteam la punctul de observație de pe baraj, privind cum omul poate schimba natura, dar totuși protejând-o.

EN: I am going on an adventure!!! It was not Frodo, it was me before heading out. Incredible how I was capable of so much enthusiasm without any coffee in my veins, but I did dream about it the whole day. I guess I am a caffeine addict after all. Each of us with their own vices.

I was the one with the adventure and Artem was the one thinking “What a comfortable car, I can sleep the whole road!”. Thus he didn’t amaze me neither this time, he fell asleep in less than five minutes. I was waking him up sometimes with “Look at that pretty village! Look at that view!”. He was opening his eyes for a few seconds and after he started to snore again. He managed to sleep in the airplane, during so strong turbulences that I thought they will break the airplane in two, and when even one stewardess was screaming in the back. Finally, I woke him up when we reached Ratchaprabha Dam. When they build the dam, Chiaw Lan Lake was formed and now it reaches over 185 square kilometers.

Chiaw Lan showed itself to us with steam lifting up from the forests around. Long tail boats were taking tourists to the floating bungalows around the lake. There you can spend the night. And we were just sitting up at the panoramic point on top of the dam, seeing how the man can change nature but also protect it.

Khao Sok view

Lăsăm Ratchaprapa în urmă și ne urcăm în caiac. După ce ne-am pus rucsacele și adidașii în pungi de plastic, am pornit-o pe unul din canalele din Khao Sok. Trec aproximativ 10 minute și încep să ne mângâie picăturile de ploaie. Deja după ceva timp vorbim de o ploaie torențială. Simțeam cum picăturile de apă mi se preling pe chip, cum părul mi se udă, cum cămașa albă de in mi se lipește de corp. Nu am mai simțit o asemenea bucurie să stau în ploaie de mult, de pe vremea când dansam în ploaie pe străzi în centrul vechi în București. Alte timpuri m-au ajuns din urmă și mi-au adus aminte că pot iubi și ploaia.

EN: We leave Ratchaprapa behind and we get in kayaks. After we put our backpacks and shoes in plastic bags, we started on one of Khao Sok water channels. Almost 10 minutes pass and the raindrops start to caress our skin. After a while, we were already covered in a heavy rain. I felt how the raindrops were falling on my face, how my hair was soaking wet, how my white shirt was glued to my body. I didn’t sense this joy to stay in the rain since I was dancing in it on the old streets of Bucharest. Other times caught up with me and reminded me that I can love rain. 

Khao Sok
Feeding the fish in Khao Sok

La aproximativ trei ore de mers cu mașina de Khanom cazi printre paginile Cărții Junglei. Alunecam prin junglă, eram înconjurați de viață. Șerpi multicolori își făceau siesta pe ramurile copacilor, atârnând ca niște lampioane deasupra apei. Peștii ne stropeau cu apă în săriturile lor. Se pare că în jur era o peșteră, de unde turiștii puteau să le arunce semințe. Atunci, obișnuiți cu răsfățul, bancuri de pești ne-au înconjurat caiacul, tot așteptând ceva de mâncare. Maimuțele se ascundeau când ploua, ne-au spus localnicii.

Formațiuni de calcar ca niște turnuri, acoperite pe alocuri de vegetație, ne vegheau drumul. Pe malurile apei, vedeai din când în când câte o căsuță de lemn. Oamenii, pe care rar îi întâlneai, ne făceau cu mâna și ne trimiteau atâtea zâmbete ca să luăm și la pachet. Un templu mic, în mijlocul junglei, te readuce cu sufletul pe pământ, căci frumusețea naturii din jur îl făcuse să se ridice la nori.

EN: At approximately three hours drive from Khanom, you fell in the “Jungle Book” pages. We were sliding through the jungle, surrounded by life. Colored snakes were making their siesta on trees branches, dangling like lanterns above water. Fishes were splashing water in their jumps. Apparently somewhere near was a cave, where tourists used to throw seeds in the water. Therefore, used with being spoiled with threats a shoal of fish surrounded our kayak, waiting something to eat. The monkeys hide when is raining, the locals told us.

Tower-like limestone karst formations covered in vegetation were watching over us. Sometimes on the banks you were able to see some small wooden house. The few people we came across were waving at us, and sending us so many smiles to take also home with us. A small temple, in the middle of the jungle, brings your soul back to earth, after the beauty of nature made it lift itself to heavens.

Khao Sok

Atenție doar, la ce ghid alegeți. Am așteptat cu sufletul la gură momentul în care voi vedea elefanți. Mai ales după ce citisem că în Khao Sok există unul din sanctuarele elefanților din Thailanda. Un loc unde iubitorii lor pot interacționa cu ei, dar unde animalele sunt tratate corespunzător. Din păcate, ghidul nostru se pare că nu și-a făcut temele corespunzător.

Am ajuns în alt loc, la “Win Elephant Tour”. Un loc unde fiecare îngrijitor era însoțit de un băț de metal sau lemn, cu care probabil fuseseră dresați elefanții. Când întrebați câte ore pe zi muncesc elefanții plimbând turiștii nu au știut ce răspuns să dea. Am vorbit cu ghidul apoi, care ne-a spus că nu crede că e o problemă acolo, dar că va cerceta mai amănunțit centrul.

Încă nu sunt sigură dacă am dreptate sau nu în legătură cu centrul, dar tind să mă încred în instinctele mele. Am ales să povestesc aici, pentru că noi am avut încredere în ghidul nostru (recomandat pe un blog de călătorii, autorii fiind iubitori de animale). Cei ce poate or să citească articolul ăsta poate nu vor face la fel și vor întreba înainte în ce centru sunt duși, vor cerceta locul, vor pune întrebări. Aveți aici câteva locuri unde poți interacționa cu elefanții fără a le provoca un rău din prea multă dragoste.

EN: Attention only at what guide you hire. I waited for so long the moment when I can see elephants. I read before that in Khao Sok you can find one of the elephant’s sanctuaries from Thailand. A place where people that love them can interact with them, but where also the animals are treated ethically. Unfortunately our guide it seems that didn’t do his homework.

We arrived at another place than I thought, called “Win Elephant Tour”. A place where all mahouts had metal or iron sticks, which were previously used probably to train the animal. When asked how many hours per day the elephants are working, nobody had a clear answer. After I spoke with the guide who told us that he doesn’t think it is a problem there, but he will research more the place.

I am still not sure about that place, but I am inclined to trusting my instincts. I chose to tell this story here because we trusted our guide (recommended on a travel blog, the authors being animal lovers). Maybe other persons that will read this post will not do the same mistakes as us and they will ask before on which center they will go, they will research the place before, they will ask questions. Here you can find more details about places where you can interact with elephants without hurting them from too much love. 

Khao Sok

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37 thoughts on “Khao Sok National Park – a place for adventure

  1. Wow! That nature! I’ve never been to Thailand, the greenery is just breath-taking! And I know what you mean about the difference when you escape a big city (I live in central Warsaw) to the nature – first day is a shock!

    Great photos!

  2. We are heading to this area in 4 weeks and hoping to see Khao Lak. Such a shame about the elephant park as they are treated so badly it is sad to see, glad you went with your instincts! #feetdotravel

  3. Unfortunately we haven’t been to this part while in Thailand but we also did 2 kayak trips in Krabi – one between the milestones and through the jungle and the other to some caves. Escaping a big city is always a breathe of fresh air. Great post, I am glad you had such a lovely time.

    1. It was my first time in Thailand also, and I fall in love with it. We are planning to go again soon. I also hope that raising awareness about the elephants it will make all this experience end. I think that tourists do not know about these problems, and that is why the issue continues to exist.

  4. So jealous that you guys got to visit – it’s been on my Thailand list for a while but I haven’t got round to visiting yet! Fantastic experience and those views are just amazing!

  5. What a wonderful alarm clock, that’s my favourite way to wake up as well instead of coffee! I cannot believe that Artem sleeps through turbulence, especially when a flight attendant screamed, you must have been petrified! We are heading to Thailand in the next couple of months so this post is wonderful, and I’m glad you went with your instincts! We will certainly be doing our research and I have pinned this for future reference. #feetdotravel

    1. I love waking up in nature, but I do love a cup of coffee as well. Artem can sleep in any kind of conditions when on the road, he also amazes me every time. The experience with the flight attendant screaming it was a scary one, especially being on an internal flight in Russia where I know that usually the crew is used to flying in bad weather. I think she was new or something, but it is a flight that I will remember.

  6. My husband can sleep through anything, too. I get so jealous of his sleep, especially on a plane when I can’t seem to shut my brain off. Sorry about the elephants, but it sounds like you still had an amazing adventure.

  7. Just an amazing looking place with gorgeous views. Sounds like quite an adventure. So sad about the elephants, but glad you followed your instincts. Always research these type of places to avoid bad ones. Hope to visit one day.

  8. Khao Sok really looks like a Jungle Book! So colorful and green. As to the matter of elephants, I also went to Phuket years ago and decided not to visit any elephant’s sanctuaries, cause I simply didn´t know the right places. And all the suggestions we were given – gave me this bad feeling even without visiting them! Elephants are amazing and smart creatures and I would love to interact with them but seeing them being hurt or treated badly – would probably made me sad for the rest of my trip… It´s as you sad – you need to know where you go very well…

  9. Ah cool I love Khao Sok. I’ve visited two years ago and really loved the place. Wish I tools some more photos like you guys because its a really nice place.

  10. Beautiful scenery and I love those karst cliffs you find in SE Asia. The little hut tucked away up there is so nice. A pity that you were taken to that kind of Elephant spot and hopefully this will warn others when they book a tour.

  11. Your pictures really do like they are from scenes from the jungle book. People at real elephant sanctuaries do not have metal sticks with them so I am certain your instinct is correct. We visited Elephants Nature Park which is known for not allowing people to ride them. That alone shows they actually care for the elephants. I am glad you brought that up in your post. I would recommend writing an entire post about it so that others researching the topic will come across it.

  12. What a beautiful story! I can’t wait to see the beauty of Thailand myself. Did the air hostess really scream in the back during high turbulence haha? I have never seen them do that. PS! Loving the photos!

    1. Yeah. It didn’t happened on this flight, it was on a previous trip. I was also amazed about her reaction, and that is what actually made me nervous. I know that they are trained to stay calm in all situation, and it was a very strange experience. Thank you so much for your kind words! Hope you will get to see Thailand soon!

  13. Karst formations always amaze us! You guys got some serious time with Mother Nature there – looks beautiful! Thanks also for the heads up on finding an elephant sanctuary. I know many rely on them for their livelihood, but its a shame when guides can’t help us find the ethical ones.

    1. Thank you! Yes, we did our good share of Mother Nature, not enough though. I cannot wait to go back on the path surrounded by greenery. About guides, I hope they will learn that you can show the beauty of your country without hurting the nature and the animals.

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