November 27, 2010

Indo-Pacific Tour 2010 - Khao Sok National Park (Day 4)

We woke up early again to have a quick breakfast before checking out. By 8:30am, we were waiting for our guide to pick us up. Strangely, the guide didn’t arrive until 9am.

When we hopped into our private van, we found an extra passenger. This was looking quite suspect.

We arranged a 3-day and 2-night private kayaking tour with PaddleAsia. Unbeknownst to us, the owner had added an extra companion to our private tour. Initially, I was quietly rather upset about the additional person, especially since my sister and I paid $450 each for the private tour. However, we soon learned that Tami from Oregon was a great person and we had a lot of fun for the next 3 days. In fact, we got along so great my sister said "You two have some chemistry...". Thanks sis.

Since we had an extra person, we were treated to two tour guides! Tom was the more experienced guide and he was tutoring Bao for this tour. Both of them were experienced kayaker both at Khao Sok National Park as well as in Phang-Nga Bay.

The 2 hours drive provided ample time to know each other before we arrived at Khao Sok National Park. At the park gate our ID’s were checked. Security was quite tight for a national park. It was just a short drive until we reached the boat launch.

Our gear and supplies were quickly loaded onto the longtail boat. We had an hour boat ride ahead of us.

Along the way, we passed by many hills of this limestone karst landscape. Originally, this area was a steep river valley. When the river was dammed, it became the large Cheow Lan Lake. According to the park website, this area has the oldest evergreen forest in the world. It is also home to a wide variety of mammals, birds, insects and fish.

An hour later, we reached our accommodations.

These eco-friendly floating bamboo rafts were constructed with local material and they had low impact to the area. We were staying at the most remote location within the park. Thus, we saw very few people for the next few days.

After settling in , had lunch and a little rest before heading out on the first kayak trip to observe some animals and birds in the late afternoon. We didn’t have to paddle too far before we started seeing some dusky langur. Unfortunately, there was too little light to photograph them. Most of the animals we saw were quite high in the trees, sometimes about 50-60 feet above the water. Thus, it was rather difficult to photograph on conventional point-and-shoot camera.

We did end the day with this wonderful picture.

When we returned, we were treated to a great dinner. In fact, all the meals were beyond expectations. We had a great sampling of local cuisines with local ingredients. The food was certainly one of the highlight of this trip!

Banana fritters with chili...yum!

Every meal had a plate of fresh fruits.

Fried tilapia

Green curry chicken

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