(2nd of August)
Waking up at 6 today for a 9am start wasted any chance I had of a slight lay-in. It’s not like I did anything productive with that extra time either, unless you count aimlessly staring at a laptop for 2 hours ‘productive’ (you obviously don’t), but when Bubpha arrived to pick me up I at least had the car’s air conditioning at my disposal, meaning that I got some gloriously cool sleep on the ride to Khao Yai.
This weekend’s trip had been organised by PuJan, one of Watphachi School’s teachers, so there were two cars full of us travelling down to the national park. The journey consisted of a lot of stops for reasons I’m not really sure of but we arrived outside Khao Yai’s park at about midday and stopped for some somtam, which was just as mind-numbingly spicy as it normally is. Still, we were in a new place, and I was excited about what interesting stuff could possibly crop up around here. So the first order of business on this amazing new adventure?
An amusement park for sheep.
I suppose that sheep are quite rare in Thailand and I’m sure that many locals see them as exciting, but living in England where they are literally everywhere I didn’t really see why they deserved their own amusement park, neither could I muster much enthusiasm about going there when we had a massive intriguing forest right next to us. Still, monkeys are fairly common here, so maybe this was similar to my obsession with them in Bubpha’s and other Thai resident’s eyes (similar, but not the same, because monkeys are far better.)
The 50 baht entry I paid supplied me with some large blades of grass to feed the sheep with, who much like over-excited dogs (looking at you Cody) jumped up to get me to feed them. I spent most of my time with the sheep who had wool that looked like Jamaican dreadlocks though. He was all kinds of cool.
We made it into Khao Yai national park after that, but not before Bubpha spent a great deal of time taking photos of me in front of the sign. We had a short while to drive up but stopped a few times for photo opportunities and to admire the impressive views, plus I found a wedding photography session taking place that I unsubtly dropped in on.
At the camp site I rented a tent and managed to set it up quite competently, only getting stumped at the sleeping bag I had also rented as some idiot had tied the string used to open the bag up, making it near-impossible to get into. Eventually I grew tired with trying to figure it out and wandered off to a walkway into the forest whilst food was being cooked by the others, coming across some tranquil lakes. Bubpha and her next door neighbour’s son who had also come on the trip caught up and we ventured to the beginning stages of one of the park’s waterfalls, where I manoeuvred around the current to dip my feet in the water without falling in.
The food was ready once we got back and since all of the chairs were taken I found a place on the mat we had out, now currently covered in plates and utensils. In Thai culture men are expected to sit cross-legged when they’re on the ground, so whilst I tried to find a position to sit in Bubpha ‘corrected’ me and I had little choice with legs folded on a surface that kept digging into them. At least I had food to comfort myself with.
At 8 we were picked up on a truck and went out for a night safari around the park. Although for the first 10 minutes there were no signs of anything we eventually came across a few grazing deer and an elephant which excited many people, but I ended up getting very frustrated as my camera wouldn’t take any good photos in the lack of light. Eventually I gave up and accepted just watching the happenings of the night-time as we moved along.
Nobody really stayed up that late; whilst I had brought the school guitar with me there was a loud noise curfew after 10 so I didn’t get much of a chance to play it when we got back. I felt tired pretty tired so sleep seemed like a good option anyway; whilst the group were all good company, the appeal of sitting around a camp until the early hours is a bit limited when you’re not with anyone who can speak the same language at you. The complete failure to get any decent night safari pictures had also annoyed me a bit too, and I was left wanting a bit more out of the day than I’d actually got from it. As it turned out, the next day would make up for that a bit.