This was definitely one of my favourite memories of Thailand . Everybody goes trekking in Northern Thailand ; I did too, and felt really uncomfortable wandering through people’s houses and villages. The Khao Sok trek is a completely different experience, no people, just peaceful jungle. Myself and 3 friends from back home had arranged to be picked up from Surat Thani port by an employee of the Jungle Huts we were planning to stay at, he turns up in a pickup truck, which was lovely in the late afternoon, driving for a few hours with the wind in our hair looking at the beautiful scenery. By the time we got to the Jungle huts on the edge of the national park it was dark, we had some dinner and signed up for a day trek the next day, climbed up the ladder leading to our tree house and watched the fire fly from the balcony. Early the next morning we headed out with our guide for the day, Rambo, in his pickup truck and headed into Khao Sok down a windy road, surrounded by huge limestone rocks, with a blanket of cloud hanging over the top. After about an hours drive we reached Rachbrappha Lake in the centre of the park and headed out on a good ‘ol trusty Thai longboat. The scenery was beautiful, comparable to PhangNga or HaLong Bay ; but then the rain came, Rambo guided us into a cave full of bats until the rain passed when we headed further out into the lake. The water levels seemed to be a bit all over the place, some areas were so low we had to guide the boat around rocks and in others it had risen so high we were floating passed tree tops, this is due to both the tsunami and the dam built in 1982.
By lunchtime we had reached a section of the lake with the most beautiful emerald water I had ever seen. We stopped at a row of bamboo huts, which are where the fishermen stay but I believe these can also be rented for tourists, we had some fried rice and a quick swim and then started our trek through the jungle. Rambo seemed to take us off the beaten track as he spent a lot of time hacking through the trees and bushes with a machete! We followed a shallow stream for a while, often crossing to the other side, holding onto each other for dear life as it got deeper and deeper. I spotted a small green snake that followed my friend into the water; I was in hysterics watching my friend trying to get to the other side as fast as possible while the tiny head of the snake bobbed across the water top.
We came across many waterfalls during our trek; apparently there are loads of waterfalls in Kaho Sok. The smaller waterfalls Rambo had us climbing up which was… erm… interesting, and slightly dangerous! Once at the top we followed the stream on and off again, the sound of running water never far away. We had to constantly be careful of the giant furry black or red caterpillars that attach themselves to the underside of leaves, and when you duck under the leaf to get passed the fur sticks into your back, a horrible example was shown to us on the back of Rambo’s neck; he had a red raw lesion that looked extremely painful and he needed to be very careful for it not to get infected. We also came across a large black and yellow spider which Rambo decided to disturb and held out for us. Unbelievably, my friends, 3 grown guys, jumped about 3 metres backwards away from this spider, while I let it walk up and down my arm.
Rambo said that these type of spiders were harmless, then changed his mind when I gave him back, apparently they bite, I don’t how true this is, and I’m glad I never found out!! We were tired and soaked through by the time it started to get dark; we had followed the stream, over hills and waterfalls to an opening where we were met by the longboat driver from earlier, only this time he was in a 2-seater rowing boat. While my three friends tried to de-leech each other with Marlboros (due to a lack of fine Cuban cigars), I jumped in the boat and had a totally peaceful 15 minute ride back to the longboat, with only the sound of running water, birds and monkeys overhead.
We only did a days trek, I would have loved to have done a longer trek, there are plenty of places to stay outside the park, although it can be a hassle and sometimes costly getting there, its honestly worth every minute, even if its just to stay in the jungle hut/ tree houses and chill out for a few days!!
Author: Hannah Cuss