It was difficult to leave the islands of Thailand, but there is so much that Thailand has to offer, we needed to put back on our adventurous hats and brave the mainland. We decided to head to a national park in the jungle, called Khao Sok because we read an article about how fun it was.
We stayed in a basic bungalow that THANKFULLY had a new mosquito net. Basically, from our travels this year, we know that the word jungle is a euphemism for "buggy". Khao Sok did not disappoint in this regard.
Nicer huts than the one we stayed in at our "resort":
The silver lining for having numerous bugs, is that there are numerous larger animals to eat them. And in this case: frogs! This was a wonderful find for my frog-loving wife. (Amber has a large collection of frog decorations from over the years. This collection used to live in our bathroom, but they were banished and most recently lived in Amber's cube at Visa. Her cube was a favorite stop for young Visans visiting their parents at work.) At our jungle bungalow, Amber didn't have to go very far to squeal in delight, because a tiny little frog decided to camp out on our steps. We both almost fell down the slippery steps trying not to step on the little guy when we left our room. We were interested in doing a night safari and asked the hotel staff about it. He said that we wouldn't see much and then asked if we were interested. The price tag was kind of high to begin with and his stellar sales job made us think otherwise. So, with our headlamps in hand, we decided to walk around in the dark on our own. I was hoping to see a tapir (something that has eluded us in every continent so far) and hoping not to run into a King Cobra (which horrifyingly can be found in the jungles nearby!). We didn't see anything large and exciting, but Amber had a knack for finding her favorite amphibious animal. We would hear an animal noise, which I thought would be a bug, and Amber would zero in on the little noisemaker and sure enough it would be a frog. She found about 15 of them in different places on our walk. In honor of Steve Erwin, The Crocodile Hunter, I gave my wife a new name: Amber Swift, The Froggie Hunter.
Because we heard we would not see any animals on a tour, we decided to hike in the national park on our own. On our way to the park entrance, a friendly dog decided to hike with us. The dog had an collar with an American flag and the letters U.S.A. I figured that the dog somehow knew we were also American. We got to the park entrance and the guard said no dogs allowed. We told the ranger, that the dog was not ours and he was following us. We tried to get the dog to stay put or head home, but it did not listen to us. The guard finally relented and the dog stayed with us. I realized that with the dog in tow, we were not going to see any animals. The dog ran ahead of us out of eyesight so I thought we could ditch it and take a sidepath to the river. We were not at the river 5 seconds when I saw a monkey running ahead of me. And then I discovered why the monkey was running: from behind Ol' Glue (the name I gave the dog) jumped out of the bushes and chased the monkey. All we could then hear was the dog barking like mad and a family of monkeys screaming in reply.
The dog had to go. I got a big stick and was ready for Ol' Glue when he came back to us after bothering the monkeys. Afterward, the dog, happy as could be, ran to us, but quickly realized that he needed to run the other way as I was screaming and waving my big stick at him. I ran after him about a quarter of a mile and he ran away into the jungle. He wasn't going to bother us again, but he later found some other people to follow and we again heard the monkeys go wild. I guess we know exactly why dogs are not allowed in the park. The highlight was seeing a rhinoceros beetle cross the path:
We didn't get many pictures because it rained most of the time. We wondered why we left the beaches for this. There was not much to offer without spending a lot of money on guided treks so we fled the jungle for big-city Bangkok. We knew we had to end up there at some point in order to get more pages added to my passport at the US Embassy. If we would have known how much we would enjoy Bangkok, we would have high-tailed it there sooner...
Here are some pictures that we did manage to take: