17 Dec Camping and hiking in Khao Yai
After a good night of sleep we still feel tired and exhausted from our long ride into Khao Yai National Park. So we try to take it easy today. While eating breakfast we watch several deer trot through the campground. They are not at all shy and like to go through people’s stuff in search of food, it seems nothing is safe from them and they are trained to check every plastic bag that is left unattended. No wonder, one older fellow camper is taunting one of the big deer with a full plastic bag, gets the deer nice and close, just to hit it with the bag on its nose, before disposing of the bag of garbage in the garbage bin…maybe a payback for a ravaged grocery bag?!
The scene definitely makes for good entertainment. We wash our dishes, hand wash some clothes, and hang up our food high in the tree next to the tent to go for a “short” hike to the visitor center.
What initially promised to be an adventurous hike over a swinging bridge and into a very short stretch of jungle…complete with a water crossing and leeches, turns out to be a pretty boring hike along a dirt road, which eventually turns into a paved road. We do however come across a few monkeys and many more deer along our way.
We initially planned on continuing our hike to the waterfall, which is about another mile from the visitor centre. Unfortunately, it is already taking us longer then we anticipated to get here and Randy feels like he is starving. While he eats, we go look around the area. All of a sudden, the sky quickly turns gray and dark and before we know it it starts to pour on us, so we decide to check out the exhibition inside of the visitor centre to wait out the rain. By the time it finally stopped, the rest of the group finally got hungry… Maybe at some point of this group-travelling-business, we’ll all get on the same feeding schedule. We eat our meal of way too spicy basil chicken with rice and start our hike back to the camp, where we arrive just after sunset.
As we reach our tent, we notice a bunch of garbage around our site…the deer made it into our grocery bag that we had tied up in the tree. Apparently, it was not high enough. Also, by now the campground is buzzing with people, we never knew camping is this popular in Thailand. Unfortunately, the campground’s bathrooms are not quite built to accommodate this many people…and it seems neither is the campground restaurant, which ran out of breakfast and dinner during our stay there.
The following morning, we get up early, jump on our bikes and head to a different hike at the end of the roadway to see two other waterfalls.
The first waterfall is just a short hike down several stairs from the parking lot. It is beautiful, huge and full of tourists.
The other hike leads through lush jungle, mostly along a river. There are plenty of bugs to see, tons of leeches to dodge and we spot a crocodile, a small deer swimming in the river, and water-monitor along our way. Occasionally, we see elephant dung and elephant tracks and wonder how the humungous animals could possibly fit on some of these narrow paths where they obviously have left their marks.
Eventually, we make it to the second waterfall. It is much more secluded, with only a few tourists venturing into the jungle. We sit and rest for a while, before heading back to our bikes and taking on the very hilly ride back to the campground.
Amazingly, the campground has filled up even more by the time we return. Campers are encroaching on every side of our tents. Somebody, even set up so close that Randy had no way to even enter his tent without asking them to move first. It is loud, crowded, busy, and the bathrooms are overflowing…time to get going again in the morning! But not before watching the deer pester a few more fellow campers.