Khao Yai National Park is the closest National Park to Bangkok. It’s located about 3 hours northeast from the Thai capital and the perfect escape from the hectic city life in Bangkok. When entering the Park you cannot immagine the size of it. All you see is one road going into the jungle and no idea what is expecting you behind the next bend. When you leave the track, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere. No marks, no signs, no nothing!
You are nervous because you don’t know what to expect. This National Park is known for having a fair amount of wild animals living in it. There still are some elephants, deers, many monkeys and a few tigers. Though, the chance of seeing a tiger in the wild is as big as finding a needle in a haystack.
But we were still at the entrance of the park. To get to the center, where the information center is its still another 26 km’s. We weren’t ready at all. This whole trip was very spontaneous and had no idea how to get there. The friendly guards, told us that if we have no car, there would be no way how to get up there unless we wanted to walk all the way up there in humid 30 degrees without a bottle of water. Of course they had a plan. We could hire one of their government bikes for 500 baht for 24 hours. Any extra hour would cost 100 baht. We decided to take one for the two of us. But the two of us were too heavy for the bike and the second bike wasn’t working and they still needed one bike to do the patrol. So no bikes for us. We were screwed. There was no way that we would walk all the way up to the visitor center in this heat.
There was only one option: The Thumb!
Hitchhiking our way up there seemed the only possible solution and therefore we used our thumb and hoped to get up there with only one ride. And, lucky us, the first car, a pickup, stopped and let us jump on the back of the car. Scott and I were finally on the way. The wind was blowing in our face and we were just a small step away from our weekend adventure. They drove us all the way to the visitor center and in return they only wanted to have a picture with the two white “falang” guys (falang= Thai for foreigner).
Finding shelter at Khao Yai
Once up at the visitor center, we looked for a decent place to stay the night. The visitor center has a map with all the cabins in the national park. We found a nice and cheap place, paid for it and made our way down there. It was about one kilometer away from the visitor center and we started hiking our way down there. It was a humid and hot afternoon and up-hill. A police car stopped next to us and the officer asked us if we need a ride. We were a hesitating a bit but only walked for about 100 meters and were already exhausted. Therefore we happily accepted his offer to drive us to our little cabin. In return he only wanted a picture with the two white “falang” guys (Falang= Thai for foreigner).
For the first time since we were living in Thailand we found a place that wasn’t that touristy and were foreigners are still something special. We thought about making our way through the national park and paying with pictures of us with the locals. That would have been a great and cheap weekend.
Hitchhiking to the waterfalls
After we moved into our small cabin, we got ready and wandered down the street. Our goal was to make our way to one of the big waterfalls in the park. It wouldn’t be easy. Another 20 kms were separating us from there. Since we still had no bikes or anything else that would take us there fast enough before the sun would set we tried to hitchhike our way down there. And we were successful. It only took three rides to get to the waterfalls.
Waterfalls have something special. I don’t know what it is. Unfortunately, the current was so strong that it wasn’t allowed to go swimming. I love swimming in waterfalls. However, just sitting there and watching was relaxing enough. The sun was setting fast and we needed to make our way back before all the other people left with their cars. We were depending on them. We stood on the side of the road with our thumbs out and the third car stopped. It was the same couple that took us all the way to the visitor center from the entrance of the park. Awesome! They were on their way back. A police officer from the province and his young wife. They were happy to see us again and we were supper happy to see them again. And their pick up!
The wind was going through our hair, the setting sun was hitting our face and the smiles on our faces were endless. We were happy and relaxed and all we wanted to do is to relax on the terrace of our small cabin, read a book, drink a beer and let the day end quietly. We stopped at the small supermarket at the visitor center where we bought a few things to eat and a few beers and made our way back to the cabin. This time we had to walk all the way back…
Good morning quietness!
We woke up with the sun. It was very early and after a very improvised breakfast, we took our backpacks and into the jungle where we found a tower. It was still early and we thought it would be a great place to relax and wait for animals to come by. Maybe an elephant, or maybe even one of the few tigers that move in the area? No elephants and no tigers but many deers!
After a few hours we kept walking and followed a small stream. It was very powerful and we had to be careful not to fall into the water. We stopped on a few big rocks and sat down just enjoying the quietness of nature. All of a sudden to Gibbons appeared in the crowns of the trees at the other side of the stream. Amazing to see animals in their natural habitat.
Happily we made our way back to the visitor center. Returned the keys of our cabin and Hitchhiked our way back out of the national park and returned to Bangkok.
We had our portion of adventure to survive for another few weeks in the big city!