It seems we have quite a few school holidays this semester. In fact, I haven’t taught a full five-day week since June, which really makes this seem more like a summer vacation and less like a job. (Well, that, and the fact that it’s pretty much ALWAYS summer here.) In that spirit, with an extra couple of days off last weekend, I headed to Khao Yai National Park for some jungle-trekking, wildlife-spotting, and wine-tasting. (Mmm-hmmm, I said wine-tasting!!)
Khao Yai is one of Thailand’s largest national parks and is home to many wild things – including elephants, vipers, gibbons, tigers, five types of monkeys, giant drippy-looking Swiss Family Robinson-esque trees, and yes — little bunches of roaming English teachers.
After a six hour journey (Suphanburi –> BKK –> Pak Chong –> Khao Yai) we arrived at our guest house just barely in time to be whisked off for our night safari. Into the back of trucks we went! We drove through pitted, dusty roads until we were surrounded on all sides by rolling green hills of jungle and mist that looked more like Tuscany than Thailand. Our first little adventure was a trip to a bat cave (literally) — a huge, dusky room used for meditation in the side of a limestone mountain. In this cavernous space, one million bats spend their days. And at dusk, that magic hour between day and night, the bats all depart at the same time, flying out through a hole — a skylight of sorts — in a space between the stalactites. It was an otherworldly sight.
The next day, we were off for a full day of jungle trekking. It was an enchanting day of wandering through elephant grass, spotting gibbons swinging through the treetops, and slip-sliding through the mud and rain. Here is the highlight reel:
After our day of trekking, we shifted gears and were off for a day of wine tasting in the Khao Yai valley outside of the park. What an unexpected, refined, delightful change of pace! Cait, Cash and I enjoyed a day of tasting cold Chenin Blanc and slightly cool Shiraz, and wandered among the vines for the afternoon.
Then we spent our evening at a sprawling, empty jungle lodge resort, where we were nearly the only occupants. We took the opportunity to be a little bit sneaky, and quietly sat on the huge front porch of a teak lodge that hadn’t been rented, looking out over a verdant valley with hills of jungle beyond. Opened a bottle of Shiraz and felt super grown up and like a happy little kid at the same time. Late night talks by moonlight – one of my favorite things. It was a lovely ending to a very full weekend, and such a departure from my daily life in Suphan. Thanks Khao Yai!