Tourists most go to Thailand because of the sun, warmth, good food and drinks and cheap spa. But beyond the asphalt jungle bars and disco pubs are a wilder Thailand. Genuine tropical jungle with abundant wildlife.
Kaeng Krachan is Thailand's largest national park. It is a small hour drive from Hua Hin. The park covers 2,915 km2 and has both tiger, leopard, wild elephants and four species of monkeys. Chances are greatest to see monkeys.
Travel with something source of extra
Several national parks offer accommodation in tents or lodges. We made it simple and booked a day trip to Kaeng Krachan from Hua Hin through reception.
Tuc tucen with driver and Gaid fetched us at dawn at the hotel. Our first destination was north along the highway, before we took off and ran inland. We went not directly to the national park. First stop was a local market in a small village. Scepticism step. We were fooled by here to buy "authentic" souvenirs before we got going on? The skepticism was confounded. We were not there to shop. We were there because gaiden would buy fresh fish.
The market was not calculated on us. It was completely free of garish sunglasses and T-shirts with the inscription I Love Thailand. The goods here were not in Hua Hin shops. And Thais left us in peace. We were not potential buyers of freshly slaughtered pig heads or pig penises.
We had another stop before we arrived the national park. This time, in a little hovel of a snack along the way. Once again it was not we who were going to buy something. Dish we were served - sticky rice grilled in sugarcane - was included.
- You must have something breakfast before we continue, gaiden explained and showed us how the grilled rice should be eaten.
It was a sweet and powerful start to the day.
Reaching the Kaeng Krachan we had to first register us in the National Park Centre. Birdwatchers No started after a little drink in the outdoor restaurant on the banks of a large pent-up reservoir. Gaiden proved naturgal. It was barely giving the telescope so we also got to see the bird he had discovered on a twig at the water's edge.
So we left the last outpost of civilization, and ran into the wilderness. We did not run many meters before we passed a herd macaques. They were obviously used to get food, they threw themselves over banana pieces gaiden thrown to them.
The asphalt was replaced with gravel and forest crept ever closer towards tuc tucen.
- Stop! Behold !, I cry, pointing down the hill.
Gaiden stopped driver. We backed quickly back to where I had spotted a monkey. Not macaques, the half-domesticated species of monkey that can also be seen inside the Thai cities. This monkey had red butt. We rushed down the slope from the road to get the photo range. There were screams and noise inside the dense undergrowth, so there was no doubt that apeflokken was close. But we did not see them.
It shows the rear part of jungle safari. On the treeless savannah animals easily seen. In the forest you must closely approach for discovering them.
Tiger and leopard
Kaeng Krachan is one of the few national parks in Thailand with tigers. They do not hold to that part of the park we were, but in the mountains along the border with Myanmar. Nevertheless. Although gaiden told him during all his years here had never seen a trace of a tiger, there was no doubt that my imagination conjured signs of striped fur among the shadows between the tree trunks. We sat after all, in an open tuc tuc which snaking helplessly inward a bumpy forest road. Gaiden had never seen the tiger, but once he saw a leopard lying on the road we drove on now.
Although gaiden not worried about predators, which he claimed was not dangerous, he had however great respect for elephants.
- Wild elephants do not like humans. They can go to attack, he warned.
It was elephant dung everywhere so there was no doubt that they existed here.
Beside being the national park with the most mammal species considered Kaeng Krachan also for being the nation's best park for birdwatchers. We met other guests in the park only once. It was English birdwatchers. Gentlemen who stared into the woods, hoping to catch a bird on the memory chip.
- Look here, he said proudly as he showed a picture of a little yellow bird, barely larger than a sparrow.
We never saw this bird. After we had parked tuc tucen and walked a few hundred meters further on the forest road, we saw however something much bigger. A rhinoceros bird. It flew clumsily from tree to tree just above us.
- You're lucky. We rarely get to see it so close, said gaiden satisfied.
With one switch violent riot tranquility of the forest. It sounds like twigs that bent and branches that are broken. Something big must be going. I look around. Are there elephants? Her gaze slides down towards the dry elefantruka front shoe. It's big. There are animal too. Racket approaching. It comes from the forest between us and tuc tucen. I look over at gaiden. He is so frightened elephants. Total undaunted by the noise, staring still at rhinoceros bird.
So dolls troublemakers up. I do not believe my own eyes. Was it these I thought were elephants? A flock brillelangurer, perhaps the world's cutest monkeys, climbing trees. They are gray, has a long tail and peculiar white rings around the eyes, and is the size of a cat. Ei of them carrying a youth with bright orange fur. The herd of about twenty individuals crossing the road above us. Racket because they throw themselves from branch to branch.
I leave the group and go alone to tuc tucen. All the time, with a furtive glance toward the woods. The idea of tiger and leopard release not quite roof. When I meet the driver, gesturing he furiously with me. I can not thai, and he can not speak English. But it is clear that he wants me to look up in the canopy over tuc tucen. I look and look. But looking only leaves and branches. Not until a sudden movement gives me a glimpse of a yellow furry shoulder disappearing into the jungle. Soon after comes the other.Gaiden and driver discussing vehemently. They will not agree. Finally turns gaiden to me and ask if I saw gibbons. And that is exactly what I have. At least one gibbonskulder. The butter cheerful gaiden turns sour. For the driver and I saw something that should not be possible to see. Just as tigers, gibbons are rare. And they will not exist in this part of the park. Fortunately for all of us come gaiden rapidly over the disappointment of having missed a gibbon.
The time passes and it is time to leave the jungle. Magen want food. Back at the National Center we are sitting almost alone in the outdoor restaurant. We are the only western tourists, despite the fact that it is in the middle of tourist season. We get a viewpoint towards the reservoir. An ice cold Singha does wonders for the crunchy dry jungle heat. Now we understand also the real reason why we visited the market earlier in the day. The fish gaiden bought, was not himself. It was to us. The kitchen serves up the full three dinners. Including fresh fish. That's good. It is strongly (they are not stingy with chili). And it's all too much. Even three adult men stuff barely eat half of everything it gaiden will cram in us.
- Is there something wrong? Are you sick? You must eat up everything he says and looks at us as a concerned mother hen.
After dinner, there remains a final point on the program before the return. There is a boat trip on the reservoir. On one of the islands in the lake live macaques. They know that afternoon boat means food. Did not you take pictures of animals in the jungle, you get one last chance now. Gaiden rejoices when he throws banana chunks in the water. Macaques bicker like monkeys most of who obtain most.
These monkeys were not the tour's highlight, but still a fun ending. I know myself that I had seen all the national park of monkeys, although the two species only revolved around a red rump and yellow shoulder.
As tuc tucen takes us back to Hua Hin's asphalt jungle, I wonder why so few make the trip to the national park. The restaurants inside the tourist town are full, but here we were almost alone. Even with only one day in the park, we are left with many impressions. Considering that everything except drink in the national park's outdoor restaurant, were included, there were many experiences for money.