Saturday, July 27, 2013

A perfect Khao Yai send-off

Friday was a day full of mixed emotions. It was sad that it was our last day in the park, but we had a lot of fun and I think we could not possibly have ended our time at Khao Yai on a better note. 

I slept in until about 8:30 (of course I woke up at 5:30 because of my internal clock, and heard the gibbons singing their hearts out). After waking I was luck enough to Skype with my parents for a while while packing up a bit. My dad always knows how to make me laugh, so the day had already started on a good note. At about 11am we left to have lunch at Heo Narok, we thought it would just be a lunch with the rangers of the search and rescue unit, but there were tons of rangers from all over the park there and a HUGE picnic set up. We were sat at the head table with a lot of park officials and I felt a little bit like royalty while the women rushed around handing out plates of rice and bringing plate after plate, bowl after bowl, of different foods. I had a bunch of different things. I also experiences some new, and very weird (no surprise here) Thai desserts. Julie and I both noticed a plastic carton containing some weird grey and white gooey gel-like disks and looked at one another nervously. We tried it though and of course it was something coconut flavored. If you ever have to guess what a Thai dessert is going to be like, you can make a pretty safe bet that it will either be coconut flavored or made of the weird yellow bean, and you can almost guarantee that it will be gooey or gel-like in consistency. Then Julie and I shared a bowl of a chilled dessert "soup" which had a very sweet coconut "broth" and little green jellies (tapioca maybe/probably?) shaped like tiny green beans. It was also weird. The best dessert I tried was the yellow cupcakes with shaved coconut on top. these too are not the consistency of regular cupcakes, but somehow also have a weird gooey quality to them. If you cannot tell I don't have a big appreciation for Thai desserts, which is fine because Thai people don't seem to have an appreciation for real, good quality chocolate. A cultural difference I am willing to accept (though it makes finding good chocolate difficult). We also had some fruit for dessert, and I am happy to say, Thailand has officially made me like bananas again, which I haven't enjoyed since I was very little, so yay! 

After many thank yous we turned down whiskey and left the picnic site to go see the waterfall. The walk is short, less than a kilometer, but it ends with quite a few incredibly steep and terrifying steps. It started raining during the walk, and Julie and I nearly slipped (despite the paved trail) a few times, making the descent even more frightening. Once we got there we realized picture taking would be problematic even if it hadn't been raining. the huge waterfall sent big clouds of mist at us and between that and the rain we were soaked within a minute. So, I carefully snapped a few photos doing my best to keep my camera dry, and we ran for cover just as the rain turned into an all out downpour. We tried to wait it out, but eventually gave up and a good thing too because the rain just got harder and harder on our walk back so that we were practically running out of the forest by the end. We stopped back at the pavilion to talk to the remaining rangers, who by now were pretty drunk. One of them talked our ear off saying things like: "we know you," "you, run" to me, "you smoke and talk on phone" to Julie (haha a great description of what they see of our free time I suppose), "this, my too, my family," ""we love you." Of course this was all drunken rambling, but it was a little bit heartwarming all the same. 

On the way home we saw an elephant! We have been so lucky this last month! Once we got back home I realized that in my carelessness I had gotten 3 leech bites on our little hike to the waterfall. I forgot about bug spray, and didn't tuck my shirt in, things I figured were unnecessary for a short hike on a paved trail. WRONG. I got a gnarly one in the belly button, one on my upper chest, and one on the neck (unconfirmed, but it feels like a leech bite). What better way for Khao Yai to say goodbye? After showering and continuing to pack we went to Jambee's house for dinner. On the way over we saw a monitor lizard, so I finally got a picture of one out of the water. Jambee prepared Moo Kata (the BBQ thing I had at a restaurant last time). We drank Leo beers and enjoyed a LOT of food. You should have seen the bowl of greens she had prepared. I learned many new Thai words, too bad I'm leaving soon, I'm just starting to pick things up. One the drive home we spotted a civet, and I got a halfway decent photo of it. 

So, it was an incredible day full of eating and wildlife/nature sightings. I cannot think of a better way to have spent my last day in the park.
 Heo Narok

 scary stairs!!

 monitor lizard!
 Moo Kata
the civet!

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