Travel

Khao Sok National Park, Thailand | Rutele

If you love the great outdoors, this is an absolute must for you. When deciding where to go while in Thailand I was very drawn to it’s nature. I thrive in minimally developed areas where I can stay in a little hut but still be able to enjoy the wonders of this earth in a very pure way. This honestly served both so perfectly. There is a little town surrounding the national park, but the jungle, the lakes and the rivers are completely untouched by man. The whole community that lives near by was raised in this jungle so they feel very connected to it and very protective of it. Generations upon generations grew up here and learned from their elders everything there is to learn about the area.

BACKGROUND:

Khao Sok is Thailands 22nd national park which was established in the 1980’s. On an average year, this part of Thailand gets about 3,500 mm of rain, with the heaviest rains happening from May to November. December to April is technically “dry season” but rain can be expected then as well. This is one of the oldest rainforest in the world and has had unchanged equatorial position throughout the last 160 million years.

Khao Sok consists of:

  • 40% foothill rainforest
  • 27% rainforest plains
  • 15% limestone crag vegetation
  • 15% lowland scrub
  • 3% rainforest at 600-1000m

If you want more information on the park, visit here.

HOW I GOT HERE/ HOW TO GET HERE:

It was quite a treck getting to the actual place. From Chiang Mai I flew into Surat Thani, which is the closest airport to the actual park. From the airport I had two options, take a taxi for 1600 Baht or take the bus for about 400 Baht. I knew the bus would take longer than the taxi but it saved me a lot of money so I went with the bus route. The big bus took me into town where I had to get into a small minivan. Turns out this was the case because the heavy rain causes landslides and big busses could not get up the mountain. This all seemed fine until the driver kept stopping, waiting around for more people, dropping people off, waiting for more people and so on. The whole ride was supposed to be about an hour but it took about three. It would have been fine if I was notified on what the schedule looked like instead of sitting on the side of the road with no idea on what is actually happening. This was the only time where I had to actually follow a schedule so I was getting really annoyed by the fact that we kept stopping and waiting around.

Eventually, we made it to the park. There were a couple of stops along the way for the park and thankfully there was a girl on the bus that knew the route and helped us pick our drop off spots. Basically there are two stops, the dam and the bus stop. Check on a map to see which one your hotel is closer to and get off there. You will have to walk some but the distances aren’t crazy if you get off at the right stop. My honest recommendation is to get a taxi, which usually will gather a group of 4 for you, so you will be splitting the fare anyways. This will be faster, and the car will actually take you to your hotel.

After walking for about 10 minutes, in the rain…again…I finally arrived. I ended up booking a two night, three day stay at Royal Cliff Resort. This was a resort situated right by the cliffs, hence the name, and it consisted of little houses which were so cute and fairly nicely accommodated. I had my own queen bed and a bathroom. The bed was comfortable and the AC actually kept the room extremely cold. Coffee, tea, water and WIFI were all complimentary, YAY. The only negative for me was the fact that I am 100% positive that I shared the room with rats…when in Thailand I guess.

This will humble me. This will humble me. This will humble me. (The repetition of that helped me sleep at night LOL)

WHAT I DID:

As soon as I arrived, they checked me in, gave me some time to change and freshen up. The kitchen made me a nice breakfast and I was off for the day. My driver took me to see a waterfall, the gorge and then we went to feed some monkeys. Most of them were pretty aggressive which was expected, but there was a momma with a baby attached to her front and I was amazed by her gentleness. She took peanut after peanut while basically holding my hand. It melted my heart.

After that I went to kayak on the river and by kayak I mean I sit in a kayak while someone else rowed for me…the current was pretty intense and there is no way a non local could handle that. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0263.JPG

Keep in mind that this day all activities were done in the pouring rain. I enjoyed seeing all of the sites but at the end of the day I was wet, cold, miserable and ready to take a hot, steamy shower. Khao Sok get 3,500 mm of rain every year so if you do go, brace yourself for being wet, almost the whole time. Yes it can get annoying but everything is so lush and green in return. It’s a give and take.

The following day I had no idea what I had actually gotten myself into…apparently I signed up for a full day jungle trek which sounded super cool…until I found out it was a six hour expedition…it was three hours up and three hours down. Somehow I ended up getting a private tour guide so it was like a little date! He was extremely knowledgeable, super helpful and very giggly when I did Rutaesque things such as slip and fall.

On the way up we explored and discussed the different trees, animals, and insects. We stopped at a waterfall and after the three hour hike we took a little breather, had some lunch and relaxed for a bit.

The way down was much quicker and easier. I basically knew how to climb, where to step and where to go in general.

I am only able to provide pictures from this whole experience because honestly it was difficult to survive without trying to film. I love nature so much and I really wanted to embrace the experience and fully submerge myself within it. Even when I was paying completely attention I managed to slip and fall soooo you know it could have been worse. I did manage to get some really neat pictures of the actual jungle and how beautifully untouched it is.

Being in the midst of this surrounded by trees, vines, animals, insects and the sky was so surreal to me. How often do you really get to submerge yourself into nature? How often do you get to be one with pureness? How often do you get the chance to feel like you’re part of something greater than yourself? How often do you get to challenge yourself physically by going off the beaten path?

The trek really served a huge purpose in my life. I am not only proud of myself for accomplishing this, but I feel so much more connected to nature. I now know first hand how difficult it can be and how much it provides for all living creatures, including humans.

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That night I was spoiled with a Thai massage, which was really neat. It was my first one so I had no idea what to really expect. I cannot say that it is relaxing but it really does what it is supposed to. They really make sure to get your whole body, and use their whole body to achieve that. They even massage your inner thighs…I had no idea that area needed loving until this very moment. The whole ordeal also involves a lot of cracking and stretching. Overall it is a painful and pleasant experience. “It hurts so goooood” is what I would use to describe it.

MY THOUGHTS:

There are some things that I wish I did that were not included in my package but I throughly enjoyed myself here. The nature is mind blowing, the people are kind, and the memories I made will be cherished forever. I honestly do suggest booking a package like I did, it saves a lot of time planning and a lot of time searching out the best deals. You know what your day will consist of and you can plan around it. The jungle trek is a must, and the guide is also a must. There are certain points you cannot cross without one and having the knowledge the locals have is necessary. You also get to actually learn about the fauna, the animals, the insects and really the culture of the town. Instead of the kayaking the river I would suggest heading over to the lake/dam area which is what I did not get to do. All in all, this is one of my favorite places that I have been during my travels. Even though some things went horribly wrong, like falling and being eaten by leeches, I am beyond humbled that I got to participate in it all. This is absolutely something that a nature fan should be a part of.

 

XOXO, Rutele.

 

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