Khao Sok is beautiful. Let that be known. It, just like Railay or Ko Phi Phi, has the sheer limestone mountains but these ones here are surrounded by impossibly dense tree cover. Our first few hours here we went for a hike through the park entrance close to our cabana and were welcomed in with a variety of different sights, smells, and sounds. And our cabanas are Tessa's favourite accommodation so far. They are pretty magical.
The cicadas, for instance, make such a loud alarm sound that when it starts close to you it freaks you out. When they are a ways away and two or three of them get going it sounds like the soundtrack to a horror film. The bamboo forests are a very nice distraction from the blood-thirsty maniac following you.
But it’s not enough. They’ll still get you!
There are leeches here that live on leaves waiting for people to walk by. Once they grab on to your pant leg they work their way under your clothes and to your skin. Gross!
Cheow Lan Lake Tour
Along our 40 minute longboat ride, packed in with 15 others, we got to enjoy some of the nicest views. Those famous limestone cliffs of Thailand towering above the most beautiful emerald green water, capped off with the bright blue sky of a clear day. This place is magical. The beauty of this ride was lessened slightly by the ridiculously loud engine of the longboat. Seriously, it’s deafening. It’s a car engine without any housing separating you from it, directly behind your head. Not too fun, and I’m already hard of hearing!
We want to take all the pictures to help us relive our time here and to share it with you but it just doesn’t translate. We took some shots but quickly put the camera down cause it doesn’t do this place justice. You’ve got to see this for yourself.
The floating hotel they have built, one of many, is a really great set up. Two rows of individual rooms on either side of the main mess hall. Each room houses two or three people easily and you even have your own toilet. But power only turns on after 6pm and shuts off sometime after midnight.
After we put our stuff in our room we changed and headed out for a kayak around the area and a swim. The water, like the ocean water we were in, was bath water. When looking at this water you can easily think of the mountain parks in Alberta and remember a lake you’ve seen or swam in. It’s very weird to jump in expecting the shock of cold water and instead be enveloped in water you could sleep in.
After a tasty lunch we all hopped in the boat and headed out to go visit a cave. When I first read about this tour a cave visit to me meant a walk along a boardwalk through a cave for about 20 minutes then you head back. Well, we all make mistakes. This activity started with a hour walk through the jungle and zigzagging across streams; it was awesome. Along the way though the guide was describing just how we would be visiting this cave and it quickly painted a different picture than the one I had imagined. So we get to the mouth of the cave and are told to leave that which we don’t want to get wet and then after flicking on our flashlights or headlamps we begin. The cave was carved out of the rock from the stream that we’ve been crossing to get here which means after entering the first small opening we step into thigh deep water. We slowly made our way through this incredible cave as a big group. Inside we saw incredible stalagtites and stalagmites, cascading pools of mineral rich water, and came to a waterfall in a cave! The journey to see all this was very challenging however, and made Tessa face her fears a number of times. A few spots along the way we had to get into water that was neck deep as we sqeezed through cave walls on either side and thats not easy when you can’t see and don’t know what is at your feet. It was scary at times, not being fully prepared for it, but ultimately something we both are glad we did.
After dinner, back at the floating hotel, we sat under the stars and called it an early night. At 5am we were awoken with a crazy rainstorm that poured for about 20 minutes and then stopped almost instantly. At 7, we all left for a morning safari, which I wanted to sleep through but Tessa said we should go. Good thing too cause we saw a number of monkeys, gibbons, and huge toucans. After breakfast and a hour of free time we loaded everything into the boat and headed to another cave. This was a dry cave so we didn’t really face any fears this time but still saw some incredible things. Near the end of the path through the cave we came to a pond that when you turn all the flashlights out you can see daylight coming through the other side. Our guide said that when the water is lower he usually takes guests through a swimthrough to the other side where the boat is waiting. That would have been cool but the day before in the other cave was enough.
We are back in town at Khao Sok now, just had our second dinner at this place that makes a mean thin crust pizza. This is a place I could have spent a couple more days here as there is still lots to see in the National Park. Ah well, next time. We can’t be walking through the jungle when we’ve got a diving liveaboard to get to tomorrow!