One Night In Khao Sok National Park / by Anna Terry

Everyone has heard of the major Thai destinations: Bangkok, Chaing Mai, Phuket etc. These places are awesome to visit but, at times, can feel overrun with fellow backpacking tourists. We decided that we wanted to find something a little more out of the way and less traveled. We stumbled upon Khao Sok National Park and after seeing photos of the beautiful landscapes and pristine waters we decided we had to go check it out. We were surprised to find that you could only stay in the park if you signed up for a guided tour. Tour groups aren’t usually our thing, but it was the only way that we could get into the park, so we caved. What really sealed the deal was the fact that we would be taking a long boat out to some remote part of the park and would stay the night on floating bungalows. WHAT!? Done and done. It turns out that the whole trip to Khao Sok was a lot cooler than we could have imagined and I DEFINITELY recommend it to any traveler going through Thailand if they have the time! 

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Floating Bungalows
I think the coolest part of the whole experience was that we got to stay the night on a floating bungalow in the middle of the park. You take an hour-long traditional long boat ride through Lake Ratchaprpaha to reach the campsite during which you see some gorgeous jagged limestone cliffs around the lake. We arrived at a peaceful little cove where the bungalows are sitting neatly in a row. I’m not kidding when I say that we are literally staying on a floating bungalow, it is really nothing more than some tiny huts attached to each other on floating wooden planks. They are only attached to land by a few cables and one long, un-sturdy plank that leads up to the restroom. The room itself is nothing more than some plywood boards and a mosquito net.  But it was absolutely amazing. Being in the middle of the aqua green waters with nothing but some cables tethering you to land (which is only jungle by the way, there isn’t a town in sight for miles)...that’s the only word I can think of. Amazing. You just need to step out your door and you could dive right into the water. I wonder if they have ever had any sleepwalkers stay with them, that would be quite the way to wake up. 

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The Missing Python
So with our stay at Khao Sok, we also had a guided tour through the jungle to check out a cave. Now, not a lot of info was divulged before and my impression from previous cave tours was that you walk in to a certain point, look around and then walk out the same way you came in. NOT the case with this tour which followed a stream through a cave for half a mile. The hike to the cave was easy enough (although slippery with mud), and with our headlamps at the ready, we walked in a single file line into a ginormous cave that held all of my deepest darkest fears. That’s no exaggeration. It wasn’t too long before it got super dark and hundreds of sparkly dots were glittering from all over the cave. Those would be the eyes of the biggest spiders I have EVER seen in my entire life. I’m talking Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets big. Some could easily be the size of your face. BLECK! Thank goodness they keep their distance from you, they mostly feed on other insects, some small geckos, rats, and bats. NBD (🙄 eye roll). If that isn’t terrifying enough, our guide tells us that there are also snakes that live in the cave. It’s hard to block out that tidbit of info when you’re wading through chest deep water. I was terrified to point my headlamp at any cracks in the cave walls because, 1. there are literally these mutant spiders everywhere, and 2. I don’t know what I would do if I saw a snake coiled up nearby. I’m staring straight down at my feet thinking “oh this will be over soon, this will be over soon”. Nope, it’s a good half hour walk through the cave out to the other side. Thank god I was blissfully unaware of what was going on with Shane up at the front of the group. Apparently, the guide had quietly told him to keep his eyes peeled for a large python because another group had seen one somewhere ahead. Needless to say, Shane was a little nervous after that!  All in all, it really was a cool cave despite being crawling with some unpleasant inhabitants. I can’t say that I would do that again, but those that are in need for some heart thumping scares I would say this is a cave of wonders for you!

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Sunrise Kayak Ride
Prior to us leaving, the owner of the guesthouse suggested that no matter what, we had to try and snag one of the kayaks for a sunrise ride. It was worth waking up at 5 am to beat our fellow campers to one of the five kayaks available. Paddling through the darkness you can slowly hear the jungle waking up all around you; the hooting and hollering of monkey’s calling out to one another, the sound of elephant in the distance, and hundreds of different kinds of birds chirping away. It was an amazing feeling to be completely still and listen to the different noises coming to life all around us.