Jesse and I are not usually ones to partake in guided tours, we find satisfaction in figuring things out for ourselves. However, I knew some things on this trip would be more fulfilling and just plain easier if we joined a tour. And so, we arrived at Greenleaf Guesthouse. The guesthouse has been run by the same family for 50+ years, they are incredibly sweet and hospitable people.
Early one morning, we jumped on the back of a truck with eight other people and our tour guide, Lek and started our trek into Khao Yai National Park! We started off by donning some stylish leech socks (although both of mine had holes in them!) and holding a snake that was just found in the woods. It was my first time holding a snake, and it’s the first time I can understand why people are interested in having them as pets. Very cool creatures.
As we were driving, our guide was hanging off the back of our truck, listening, looking for any wildlife. He screams out to the driver and as we stop, he jumps off and points at a family of gibbons swinging through the treetops. I guarantee he had never taken a biology or ecology course in his life, but he knew so much about the wildlife in the park from taking people there everyday!
One of the highlights of the day for me was as we were trekking through the woods, this tumbled dense shadowy world of giant trees and tropical plants everywhere, we came out to this clearing. We were waking through grass that was a foot taller than our heads, but in the distance we could see trees in the middle of rolling green fields, and birds soaring overhead. It was very much like a dream – a cool, welcome breeze, deep blue skies, grass so green it seemed fluorescent, ah! It was incredible.
All day Jesse and I were hoping to see some elephants. We heard the previous day’s tour saw two elephants, and that it was a random chance at seeing them. In the early afternoon, our guide got a call about an elephant that was only a mile or so from us. He booked it to the road, and from a distance, we saw the big, grey butt of our first Asiatic elephant! Luckily, later in the day we got to see another one from much closer. We were tailing this elephant from about 10 feet behind, and all of a sudden we pass him on the road and end up about 10 feet in front of him! Honestly I was a bit nervous being so close, but it was an incredible experience. The elephant was just sauntering down the road, taking no notice of the cars that were stopping all around him.
After all that excitement, we ended the day by walking down to Haeo Suwat Falls – these were the waterfalls that were made famous in the movie “The Beach”. Beautiful and green and mystical, for sure 🙂